Jan 16, 2008

AirAsia : The Story So Far

Since AirAsia introduced its low fare, no frills concept in December 2001, the airline now flies to over 48 destinations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Macau, China, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, formed 2 successful joint ventures in Thailand through Thai AirAsia, and Indonesia through Indonesia AirAsia, expanded its fleet from the original two to twenty eight, and revolutionized air travel in these country by offering incredibly low fares through its innovative sales channels. To date the AirAsia group, has carried over 35 million guests.

In June 2003, AirAsia announced three investors, IDB Infrastructure Fund L.P., Crescent Venture Partners and Deucalion Capital II Limited who have acquired equity in AirAsia Sdn Bhd worth US$26 million (RM98.80 million).

In August 2003, AirAsia became the first airline in the world to introduce SMS booking where guests can now book their seats, check flight schedules and obtain latest updates on AirAsia promotions from the convenience of their mobile phones. AirAsia also recently introduced Go Holiday, the airline’s online programme where guests can book holiday packages online in real time.

AirAsia began regional flights in November 2003, by introducing flights to Phuket, in Thailand. The airline quickly extended flights to Bangkok, and later Hat Yai from KL International Airport. Flights to Indonesia commenced in April 2004 with routes serving Bandung, Surabaya, and Jakarta from KL International Airport. Subsequently the airline also introduced flights to Bali, Medan and Padang. AirAsia made history in Bandung, when it became the first low fare, no frills airline to operate a direct flight between Bandung and Kuala Lumpur in April 2004.

In Jan 2004, AirAsia carved a milestone in the history of Asian aviation when the low fare airline formed a partnership with Shin Corporation in Thailand to develop a low fare carrier in Thailand. Shin Corporation holds 50% stake, AirAsia has 49% and the remaining 1% by an individual. With 2 planes based in its Bangkok, AirAsia launched domestic operations in Thailand on January 13, 2004 with daily point-to-point flights from its new Bangkok hub and has since expanded to more domestic routes and new international flights to Singapore. AirAsia’s Thai operation is scheduled to expand to a fleet of eight Boeing 737-300 by end 2004.

In July 2004, the low fare airline commenced service to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau, by introducing a flight via is Thai operations from Bangkok. History will be made on Dec 15th 2004, when AirAsia launches its maiden service to Macau from its hub in Kuala Lumpur, and subsequently being the first low fare airline to do so.

In November 2004, AA International Limited (AAIL), a company that is 99.8 per cent owned by AirAsia Berhad, successfully concluded a sales and purchase agreement with Indonesian private airline PT AWAIR to acquire 49.0 per cent stake in the company. AWAIR was successfully re-launched as a low cost carrier serving domestic routes in Indonesia on 8 December 2004. AWAIR’s hub is based at Soekarno - Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In April 2005, the AirAsia Group became the first low fare, no frills airline to commence services between Bangkok and Xiamen, in China, and Clark (the Philippines) from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

AirAsia is also now a public listed company on the Malaysia Stocks Exchange ( Bursa Malaysia), after having on 22 November 2004, successfully orchestrated one of the largest public offering in Malaysia and raised a whopping RM 717.4 million for its future expansion.

In line with its growth and expansion plans, AirAsia has secured a 130 aircraft commitment with Airbus for its A320s (100 firm, 30 options). The 130 aircraft order will place AirAsia as the single largest customer for the aircraft in Asia-Pacific, and potentially one of the largest airline fleets in the region. The new aircraft would gradually replaced AirAsia’s existing Boeing 737-300s.

On 23 of March 2006, AirAsia successfully moved its operations to the new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). This is a major milestone as it is the first dedicated terminal for low cost carrier operations in the world. The LCCT is designed to cater for 10 million passengers per annum with 30 parking bays for aircraft. It is upgradeable to cater for 15 million passengers if required. This terminal provides us with numerous cost saving opportunities as well as a more efficient operation.

The phenomenal growth of AirAsia reflects its vision to become an ASEAN brand. As one of the leading low fare airline in the region, AirAsia is the epitome of ASEAN with its rich cultures and wealth of resources. The airline further aspires to bring low fare travel to the people of ASEAN, and to encourage and boost trade and tourism amongst countries in ASEAN.

The Philosophy

With the tagline 'Now everyone can fly', AirAsia’s philosophy of low fares is aimed to make flying affordable for everyone. AirAsia also aims at making travel easy, convenient and fun for its guests.

The Essentials

AirAsia’s operations are based on the following key strategies:

Low fare, no frills

AirAsia’s fares are significantly lower than those of other operators. This service targets the guests who will do without the frills of meals, frequent flyer miles or airport lounges in exchange for fares up to 80% lower than those currently offered with equivalent convenience.

No complimentary drinks or meals are offered. Instead, AirAsia recently introduced 'Snack Attack', a range of delicious snacks and drinks available on board at very affordable prices and prepared exclusively for AirAsia’s guests. Guests now have the choice of purchasing food and drinks on board.

Frequent flights

AirAsia’s high frequency service ensures guest convenience is met. The airline practices a quick turnaround of 25 minutes, which is the fastest in the region, resulting in high aircraft utilization, lower costs and greater airline and staff productivity.

Guest Convenience

AirAsia believes in providing convenient service to make traveling easier and more affordable for its guests. Guests can make bookings through a combination of the following:

Nationwide call centre - Launched in April 2002, AirAsia’s Nationwide call centre in LCC Terminal is now fully equipped with 180 telephone lines providing convenient telephone booking services to guests. The call centre now takes an average of 6,000 calls daily.

Ticketless service – Launched on 18 April 2002, this concept complements AirAsia’s internet booking and call centre service by providing a low cost alternative to issuing printed tickets. Guests no longer need to go through the hassle of collecting tickets!

Easy payment channels - In line with its “ Easy to Book, Easy to Pay & Easy to Fly” approach, on 1 March 2002 AirAsia became Malaysia’s first airline to enable their guests to pay for their telephone bookings by credit card or by cash at any Alliance Bank branches.

Internet booking – As Asia’s first online airline, AirAsia offers a new convenience in buying seats by logging on to its website www.airasia.com. No more phone calls, no more queuing. Launched on 10 May 2002, www.airasia.com is now available in 6 languages - English, Bahasa Malaysia, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Thai and Bahasa Indonesia.

Reservations and sales offices - These are available at airports and town centres for the convenience of walk-in customers.

Authorised travel agents – AirAsia also introduced a direct B2B engine to its agents. The internet-based real time inventory booking engine is the first in Asia. The agents make immediate payment via a virtual AirAsia credit card, developed through one of its strategic partners, Alliance Bank.

Improving customer service - AirAsia is constantly looking for ways to improve its services and increase savings for its guests. AirAsia is the first airline in Asia to have a multi-lingual website with six languages available on www.airasia.com.

Safety first

AirAsia’s cost optimisation philosophy is in no way at the expense of the airline’s safety. The airline’s fleet of 30 Boeing 737-300 fully complies with the conditions of the International Aviation Safety and are regulated by the internationally reputed Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation. In July 2002, AirAsia signed a US$20 million agreement with GE Engineering Services for engine maintenance and later in the month, a US$3million aircraft engine and aircraft frame parts leasing agreement with VolvoAero. AirAsia also signed a US$7 million agreement with ST Aero, covering the airline’s engineering components support for seven years.

Cost optimization operations

AirAsia strives to maximize profit and provide low fares at quality service. The airline has optimised costs by operating a faster turnaround time, improving aircraft utilization and crew efficiency, providing a 'no frills' service, using one type of aircraft to save training costs, all of which result in savings which are passed back to consumers in the form of low fares.

Source : Air Asia

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