News

AirAsia grows Singapore hub

31 Mar 2009

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.”

The
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

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