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AirAsia a key player in changing aviation landscape

Its low-cost structure and the volume of passengers it carries have enabled the airline to play a crucial part in reviving Malaysia’s sleepy secondary airports
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Published: 2007/12/04

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BUDGET airline AirAsia Bhd, which began its operations in 2001, has played a crucial role in changing the aviation landscape, not only in Malaysia, but also in the region as well.

True to its tagline "Now everyone can fly", its low-cost business model has opened up a whole new market of air travellers, previously comprised mainly by the financially affluent, and subsequently contributed towards spurring tourism growth, both domestic and regional.

Its low-cost structure as well as the volume of passengers it carries, has also enabled the airline to operate domestic routes, deemed as unprofitable, and this has also played a crucial part in reviving Malaysia's sleepy secondary airports.

With its affordable airfare, almost everyone now is able to fly and this has brought in the much needed passenger traffic to these airports.

The airline has consistently been vocal about the positive impact low-cost carriers can have on not just energising airports where it operates, but also on the economy as a whole.

At its recent shareholders meeting, for example, AirAsia officials reiterated how it could reel in more revenue for the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport in Subang if it receives the go-ahead from the government to relocate its present operations there.

Chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes pointed out that the huge passenger volume handled by AirAsia would be able to significantly stimulate economic activities within the former international airport, which currently earns around RM3 million in annual revenue.

"We are confident that with our presence in Subang, we will not only help bring in more revenue to the airport but also contribute towards making it a more business-driven and competitive regional airport," he told reporters after AirAsia's annual general meeting in Sepang last month.

The budget carrier has been lobbying to operate via Subang airport, much like community airline FireFly, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which had commenced operations from the airport since late October.

The airline is working on a proposal on the matter and hopes to submit it to the government soon.

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