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15 December 2008

India and more beckons for AirAsia

By Mohd Affendi

The news on AirAsia’s foray into Indian market excites everyone, even if the prospect currently is limited to the small Tiru. However it is the first of a bigger and more confident steps in the subcontinent, I hope, which eventually will include Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Calcutta etc.

However, while expanding inter-regionally, AA might also want to look closer to home as there are still unopened market worth investing. For example, there is a demand for regional flights from the East Coast of Malaysia to countries around the Siam Gulf.

More specifically, AA should consider flying between Kota Bharu-BKK/>-Phuket/Koh Samui/Patani/Songkhla/Ranong/>-Chiang Mai, Kota Bharu-Phnom Penh/>-Siem Reap/Battambang, Kota Bharu-Ho Chi Minh/Hanoi, Kota Bharu-Guangzhou.

There is a traditional cultural and historical links between these places in trade and culture. The Kelantanese are known as astute traders and travellers; in fact many successful Malaysian businessmen (and businesswomen) who based themselves in >-KL actually come from Kelantan, and just look at the high load factor in MAS, AA and Firefly flights in and out of KB. The strategic location and a footloose, trading population are both good for trade and travel. Federal government already recognizes this fact, and there had been talk of building a brand-new seaport near KB. Don’t know what happened but I am sure AA will do well if it taps into this largely ignored market.

By the way, what is happening to flights in/out of Kuantan? There were talks of introducing international flights like Kuantan-Jakarta/-BKK/-SIN, but now even flights to >-KL are cut to only 3 per week! Understandably, competition on >-KL-Kuantan route is fierce especially since there is very good highway with numerous bus companies offering more flexible travelling option. But the daily flight should stay! Maybe AA can look into the possibility of introducing Kuantan-JB and Kuantan–SIN to increase passenger volume, and load factor; at the very least Kuantan should be a feeder airport, if not a hub, for AA’s other flights.