Aviation Week & Space Technology
Jan 25, 2010
By Neelam Mathews
Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia is stepping up its momentum in India with definite plans to add eight more routes in the next seven months.
The carrier started flights to India late in 2008, and flies at present to four destinations in India. Starting Jan. 27, its flights will be loaded for sale on its Web site.
This new service is a coup for the carrier, given that most airlines are reducing fleet capacity to deal with debts and waning customer demand.
Effective April 28, AirAsia will start its daily A320 Chennai-Penang flight, an old Malaysian Airlines sector. Penang is home to ethnic traffic, and AirAsia will offer fares as low as $43 from Trivandrum in South India to Kuala Lumpur.
The first week of May will see the launch of the Mumbai-Kuala Lumpur A330 service four times a week followed by Chennai-Kuala Lumpur on May 18, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore)-Kuala Lumpur daily A320 flights two days later, and daily Hyderabad-Kuala Lumpur flights on July 18. Starting Aug 1., AirAsia will start its daily service to Delhi on an A330.
Approvals are being sought by the Ministry of Civil Aviation for Thai AirAsia to fly Bangkok-Mumbai and Bangkok-Kolkata.
The carrier is looking at flying to 15 Indian destinations by the end of 2011 once it gets approvals.
India might become a bigger market for AirAsia than China. It has more than 60 destinations globally, and will be able to open markets such as Vietnam that have no connection to India, an official told AviationWeek.
AirAsia also plans to tap the Singapore market to India via Kuala Lumpur where it flies eight times daily at a one-way fare of around $9. The connections are convenient via Kuala Lumpur, and there is a large Indian population living in Singapore, says the official.
AirAsia will open a new niche in India — those that have been unable to travel due to economic constraints. Also, the mid-market events and conferences that had reduced as a result of cost cutting by corporations, will get a boost.
AirAsia’s past record shows that it invades a market with low fares that generate new traffic. For example, it started dailies to Trivandrum in late 2008 and by November 2009, had turned them into double dailies.
With a fleet of 86 aircraft, AirAsia flies to over 60 domestic and international destinations on 108 routes, and operates over 400 flights daily from hubs located in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Photo credit: AirAsia