Air Asia to add six more India-Malaysia flights

April 13th, 2010 - 10:44 am ICT by IANS  

By Aparajita Gupta
Kuala Lumpur, April 13 (IANS) Low-cost carrier Air Asia is planning to add another six flights to India this year from Malaysia to cater to growing traffic.

Flights from Penang to Kolkata would start from April 28, Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai May 6, followed by Kuala Lumpur-Chennai, Kuala Lumpur-New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur-Bangalore, Kuala Lumpur-Hyderabad. “Air Asia is planning Kolkata-Bangkok direct flight, may be in the middle of next year. Probably it will be a daily flight,” Tony Fernandes, group CEO, said.

“We will go everywhere in India in due course. In China, we go everywhere,” he said.

The airline already connects four destinations - Trichy, Trivandrum, Kolkata and Kochi - to Kuala Lumpur.

Recalling how he bought debt-ridden Air Asia with three other people for only a token 26 cents in December 2001, Fernandes said: “We only had two aircraft when we started. Eight years later, now we carry 27 million people and have 92 aircrafts.”

The company has bought another 120 aircraft, which are to be delivered within 2015, he confirmed.

Asked about his plans of connecting any other destination in India with Malaysia soon, he said: “Probably Amritsar will be our next destination. I have promised the Sikhs in Southeast Asia.”

An accountant by training, the 45-year old Fernandes was in music business for 14 years before he planned to buy Air Asia.

His father was a Goan born in Kolkata), who studied in La Martiniere School, and later went to Malaysia as a doctor and stayed there.

Fernandes said the mantra behind his success was “focus and discipline”.

Saying India with a billion plus population is like a continent, he added: “Focus on lowering the cost is very important to stimulate the new market. The type of fares we have created, people have never thought of flying in such fares. Secondly, sustainability is very important. The third aspect is we created new markets like Thiruvananthapuram.”

He said: “We give people more choice.One who does not want to eat or one who does not want to have a privileged seat will pay less. On the other hand, one who is carrying 15 (pieces of) luggage, for which the plane weighs more and burns more fuel, needs to pay more.”

Air Asia charges for privileged seats. From July the airline company is planning to introduce through check-in for connecting flights, which will be charged.

“We have started a new joint venture airline with VietJet Air recently,” he said. VietJet Air chief operating officer Nguyen Duc Tam and Tony Fernandes signed the agreement in Hanoi. AirAsia had earlier acquired a 30 percent equity stake in VietJet Air.

He ruled out any plans to invest in any Indian airline company. “India does not allow such investments. An individual can buy but not a company.”

Consolidated turnover last fiscal (January-December 2009) was RM 7 billion and the company made RM 600 million profit. He, however, declined to forecast any growth figure for the company this year saying it was constrained by the stock exchange from divulging any figure.

We are expecting a good year with 23 percent passenger growth. He said the company has 7,000 staff with no unions. Expressing his confidence in people, he said: “We have an efficient orgnisational structure. We have tried to create a family-like environment.”

“Our motto is never to take no for an answer.”

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