AirAsia moves nearer its goal of building Singapore up as its newest hub, with the addition of four new services between the island-state and Indonesia.
Return flights Jakarta-Singapore, Bandung-Singapore, Yogyakarta-Singapore and Bali-Singapore, which started simultaneously on March 24, were officially launched today in Singapore with AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, Indonesian ambassador to Singapore Mr Wardhana and other AirAsia officials attending.
In August last year, the low-cost carrier (LCC) kicked off a long-held dream of Fernandes with a flight mounted by affiliate Indonesia AirAsia between Pekanbaru in Riau Province and Singapore. Flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia as well as Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand followed soon after.
“I’ve been waiting seven years to enter Singapore, and I’ve fought many battles to get to where we are now,” he said.
“Singapore is very special to AirAsia and we consider it a virtual hub. This Indonesia-Singapore link forms the final piece in our network’s jigsaw puzzle.”
He expected AirAsia’s network of 10 routes, connecting Singapore to grow by three more – in all probability to Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia and Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia. Frequencies of some existing routes such as Jakarta-Singapore will be increased.
The current financial crunch has created tremendous opportunities for his organsation, admitted Fernandes, a former Warner Music executive, who once worked for airline maverick Richard Branson. “Demand from business travellers in Singapore for low-cost flights has gone up.”
According to him, AirAsia has already responded to the shift of corporates to LCC use, citing conveniences such as assigned seating and the ability to change flights without being penalised. Its AirAsia GoCorporate package features an online and reporting system that provides cost-conscious companies a way to manage travel expenses.
“They’ll also appreciate our A320 product,” Fernandes said. The carrier is a firm customer of Airbus.
Traffic between Indonesia and Singapore has traditionally been vibrant, with Indonesians frequenting the Lion City for leisure activities and education, and many choosing to make it home. Singaporeans enjoy spending their holidays in Bali and Yogyakarta (site of the world-famous Borobudur). Jakarta and Bandung are recognised business hubs, with Jakarta as the country’s capital and Bandung acknowledged as a textile manufacturing centre.
Fernandes has long promoted the idea of an “Asean airline”. He said: “AirAsia hopes to facilitate the growth of an Asean brand. But we need connectivity. If people and businesses here in the region aren’t connected, we can never succeed.”
round-trip Jakarta-Singapore service is twice daily, and round-trip
Bali-Singapore, Bandung-Singapore and Yogyakarta is each once daily.
For more details, visit www.airasia.com
Margie T Logarta