Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AirAsia Adds More Flights To India

AWIN First Nov 16 , 2010
Neelam Mathews

As Lotus Racing Team principal and AirAsia Chairman Tony Fernandes enjoys poking fun at Virgin Racing and Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson—who will dress as an AirAsia flight attendant on its inaugural charity flight from Kuala Lumpur to London after losing a bet to Fernandes—he is all business when it comes to serving Indian markets.

AirAsia will increase its frequencies on the Kuala Lumpur-Chennai route through the addition of four more flights starting Jan. 21, 2011. With the additions, AirAsia will operate 11 weeklies from Chennai on a 180-seat Airbus A320, offering a total of 114 weekly flights from India.

“We have had this great bet running all season and now it’s time for Richard to start preparing himself for some hard work and the likely pain of a pair of high heels,” said Fernandes, who had told Aviation Week earlier this year that India would be his focus.

Chennai in southern India has a large leisure market to Malaysia, and was among the first destinations in India served by AirAsia. Travelers from Chennai are increasingly using Kuala Lumpur as a connecting gateway to more than 130 routes in Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and beyond, said Kathleen Tan, regional head of commercial, AirAsia.

In March, founder Tony Fernandes told Aviation Week: “In India we will continue to do what we are doing and push airports to be more responsive. We have just scratched the surface. I should be doing 600 flights to India. Look at Trichy [South India]. Everyone laughed at me when I started to fly there. Now we are planning a thrice-daily. It just shows what a tremendous opportunity there is in India. By end of 2011, we will have added 30% more flights to India over 2010.”

Fernandes plans to start flights to India from Bangkok as well. “We will also fly beyond to Bali, Phuket and Australia.” 

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