AirAsia: Ambitions to Consolidate Kuala Lumpur as the World’s Largest Low-Cost Hub

ASEAN, air transport, low cost airlines, AirAsia

In an interview with the New Straits Times in Malaysia, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes believes that KLIA could be the low cost “Dubai of the East” with over 100 million passengers.

Tony Fernandes is a visionary man as he proved it to turn an obscure carrier, AirAsia, into the largest low cost carrier on the continent with affiliates in eight countries –subsidiary airlines in Vietnam and China have been announced but did not take off yet.

In a recent interview with Malaysia ‘official’ newspaper, the New Straits Times, Fernandes sees further expansion for the airline in its home country. AirAsia had ordered 688 aircraft, which included 592 units of the A320 family of single aisle aircraft and 96 units of the wide-bodies for its long-haul unit AirAsia X. Long-haul aircraft include A330neo, A330-300 and A350XWB. The carrier should reach 500 planes by 2027 compared to a current number of 250 aircraft.

The carrier will remain a customer to Airbus with Fernandes ruling out for the time being to buy any Boeing 787 aircraft. “I go to Seattle more than I have ever done. Right now, we are still very much an Airbus customer. We have no plan to buy from Boeing at the moment,” he was responding to NST during a recent inaugural.

The airline will continue to expand, mainly in China, India and the Asean region, in line with its on-going aircraft orders. However, further growth will be linked to the further opening of air terminals dedicated to the specific requirements of budget airlines, a battle that Fernandes has been carried out for years now. In this way, he quoted recently Singapore Terminal 4 as the ideal low-cost model air terminal.

“I think the future is good for AirAsia. Today’s visit by the Prime Minister has shown the confidence that we are heading in the right directions. We will eventually get another low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) not just only at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) but also in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Penang and in other Asean countries,” foresees Tony Fernandes.

Fernandes highlighted further to the New Strait Times that AirAsia was upbeat to turn Kuala-Lumpur into the low cost travel equivalent of Dubai. He believes that another 20 to 30 million more passengers will be transported in the near future compared to a target of 89 million passengers this year. Last year, the group carried 71 million passengers.

“AirAsia will have over 300 routes to more than 130 destinations in 26 countries, making the group the fourth-largest airline in Asia”, he stressed to the NST.

(Source: New Straits Times)