Posts tagged Travel
Two big wins for the Philippines’ Clark International Airport: FedEx will return to the Philippines and plans to use the airport as its hub, while surging low-cost carrier AirAsia will build a passenger base there for its new local affiliate, AirAsia Philippines.
At 2,367-hectares, Clark International Airport is about four times the size of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, about 90 minutes’ drive away. It is located within the Clark Freeport Zone and industrial area on the site of a former US military base.
AirAsia Philippines plans to start flying in October to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Bangkok with a fleet of four aircraft, before expanding out to other Asian destinations. Its parent company, AirAsia, already flies between Clark and Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, which will continue alongside the new services.
FedEx’s main Asian hub is at Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou, and is the company’s largest outside the United States. Before relocating there, it operated out of another Philippines economic zone (and former US base) at Subic Bay but found itself unable to expand operations to meet customer demand. The loss of FedEx was a blow to the Subic Bay and administrator Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, which lost 600 jobs and around P160 million (US$3.76 million) a year in revenues.
Here’s an interesting story: reports indicate that AirAsia is about to embark on a share-swap deal with its chief competitor and Malaysian national flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Sources have told Malaysian newspapers that the budget carrier will gain a 20% share of MAS under a partnership agreement.
The companies have supposedly been negotiating the deal for the past year. The sources also say the Malaysian government’s investment arm Khazanah Nasional will get a share in AirAsia and Tune Air Sdn Bhd will receive a stake in MAS. AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes is also CEO of Tune Air, which itself owns a 26% share of AirAsia.
Neither Malaysia Airlines or Khazanah Nasional, its 70% shareholder, are commenting on the matter. It’s understood a formal partnership between the two rivals would enable them to compete more effectively in the global market, and bargain from a position of greater strength with airports and aircraft manufacturers.
AirAsia, which focuses on the budget end of the market, recorded a profit in Q1 of 2011 while Malaysia Airlines, which focuses on the traditional and higher end, recorded a loss and is undergoing a management restructure.
source & article: Channel NewsAsia
Asia’s most booming airline is teaming up with one of its strugglers to hopefully produce profit: AirAsia Japan, a subsidiary owned by All Nippon Airways (ANA) will become the first low-cost carrier to fly out of Narita International Airport near Tokyo by August 2012.
The announcement was something of a surprise, since AirAsia X began flying out of Tokyo’s second international airport, Haneda, just this year and ANA also announced its own budget airline venture, Peach Aviation, in May. AirAsia X will continue to operate from Haneda for the foreseeable future, while Peach will be based at Kansai International Airport near Osaka and serve mainly the domestic market.
Even so, the move is an interesting one given the dramatic drop in tourist inflows to Japan after the March 11 disasters and a reluctance among Japanese to spend on luxuries like travel in the face of national hardship. Japan’s other major traditional carrier, Japan Airlines (JAL) has repeatedly flirted with bankruptcy over the past few years and home-grown domestic carriers have struggled to offer the kind of discounts seen in other countries, given Japan’s high landing fees and manpower costs.
AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes remained confident his airline could do better, saying enhanced links in travel and tourism would boost economic ties between East and Southeast Asia and produce growth. ANA will hold a 67% share in AirAsia Japan, with plans to fly domestic routes and longer-haul services to South Korea and Taiwan.
source & article: news.com.au
Tune Hotels, Tony Fernandes’ effort to take the low cost flight model to accommodation, is moving into Australia with plans to open locations at all AirAsia flight destinations in the country. Its first location will open in central Melbourne in December 2012, which will be followed by hotels in Darwin, Perth and Gold Coast.
The chain operates nine hotels in Malaysia and has also opened locations in BalI and London. With a goal to have 100 locations by 2015, there are also plans to open more hotels in Indonesia, as well as several in Thailand and the Philippines.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports AirAsia does not currently fly to Sydney, Australia’s largest city, since the Malaysian government has blocked it from the route to protect its national carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
Tune Hotels works on the principle that hotel rooms can be booked like airline seats, with rooms going for as low as AU$5 (US$5.30) a night if booked well in advance. The chain’s rooms are somewhat small but feature ‘one-star beds’ and a ‘power shower’, which along with air conditioning were identified as a traveler’s most important needs. Like budget airlines, some less necessary standards become chargeable extras and TVs, wifi and refrigerators are a few more dollars extra per night.
Australia currently has only one low-cost hotel operator, Formule 1 (owned by France’s Accor) which has operated for two decades but with only moderate success.
source & article: Sydney Morning Herald
A very interesting week the Southeast Asian air travel industry, with some big news coming out of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Singapore. Some highlights were:
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will join the Oneworld Alliance, joining a network that spans 900 destinations in over 146 countries. Members of the alliance align their various policies and procedures and adopt common specifications in service, engineering and maintenance, also reducing costs through parts-sharing and bulk buying. MAS’ entry, which was sponsored by Australian national carrier Qantas, saw the share price rise 1.4% to RM1.44, its first increase in three trading sessions. The Oneworld Alliance also includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia announced a long-term partnership, giving each access to dozens more routes in the Asian/Australian/Pacific region and enabling frequent fliers to earn and redeem points for each other’s flights. Two quirks of the agreement were: (1) it must still be approved by regulators before going ahead; and (2) it excludes the lucrative Australia-US routes long coveted by SIA, but from which it has been blocked by the Australian government.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s international gateway Changi Airport announced its passenger traffic would surpass 50 million a year by 2014. It’s already serving 42 million at present, and officials said it would have reached the 50 million mark even sooner if not for the global financial crisis a couple of years ago. Low cost carriers supply 22% of Changi’s numbers, while traffic to and from destinations in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia grew 18%, compared to the airport’s total traffic growth of 13% in 2009.
sources: Bloomberg, The Star, IATA, Yahoo! Singapore, AirportBusiness.com
Indonesia’s national airline Garuda announced this week it would develop South Sulawesi’s capital Makassar as a ‘third hub’, after Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali). The state-owned company said its move was part of the government’s ‘Six National Economic Development Corridors’ concept to identify and nurture unique economic strengths in Indonesia’s regional areas.
Garuda’s CEO Emirsyah Satar said the airline was “always responsive towards market trends and quick to cash in on growing economic potentials in various regions,” and added his hopes to increase passenger travel, improve service and thus stimulate the local economy.
Under Indonesia’s Six Economic Corridors plan, Makassar is being developed as a business hub. With a population of nearly 1.5 million, the city has a plum strategic location both in Indonesia and between the growing markets of Australia and East Asia, and a 70% service-based economy. Garuda runs direct flights from the city to other business centers, like Singapore and Balikpapan in Borneo. Sulawesi Island itself is being developed as a production and manufacturing center for agriculture, plantation, fishery and the national nickel mining products.
From now on, travelers from Makassar can fly Garuda direct to thirteen domestic and international destinations.: Ambon, Balikpapan, Biak, Denpasar, Jakarta, Jayapura, Palu, Surabaya, Gorontalo, Manado, Ternate, Timika, and Singapore.
source & article: Garuda
Singapore will host ‘TravelRave 2011′ from October 17-23, a series of related events designed to showcase business opportunities in the Asian travel industry. It will be the second of its kind, after the success of TravelRave last year saw 8,000 participants.
Along with the region’s economies and middle class wealth, Asia’s tourism industry is booming and the number of international arrivals grew 13% last year over 2009. The Singapore Tourism Board, which organizes the event, says it’s Asia’s ”only mega tourism and travel festival” and will show that Asia is leading the world’s tourism industry recovery.
Bringing all the events to one time and place should ease things for attendees. Events will include the ITB Asia travel fair, a conference on hotel and tourism investment, an annual meeting of Asian convention and travel bureaus, and a nice-sounding ‘retreat’ for policymakers and industry leaders hosted by the UN World Tourism Organization.
source & article: AFP via Yahoo! News
Some good news for Indonesia’s travel industry this morning, although possibly at Malaysia’s expense: Low-cost carrier AirAsia announced it would move its regional headquarters from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta this year, looking to capitalize on Indonesia’s much larger and increasingly wealthy consumer base.
The airline said its move won’t impact Malaysian operations, but it does challenge Malaysia’s ambitions to be a regional transit hub. AirAsia is also busy recruiting staff for its new AirAsia Singapore operation, and CEO Tony Fernandes said they would be ‘night-stopping’ aircraft in the city to meet early morning flights.
Business has been pretty good for AirAsia this year. It has 49% stakes in Thailand and Indonesia, both set to go public in 2011, and has begun a joint venture to start AirAsia Philippines. It made a RM1.1 billion (US$364 million) net profit last year, doubling that of the previous year and beating analysts’ projections of RM822 million ($272 million). It operates 105 aircraft with another 122 on order and options for 63 more. Passenger demand also continues to increase, filling 82% of available spaces.
source & article: The Malaysian Insider
AirAsia has launched a year-long promotion called “To Japan With Love”, aimed at increasing traffic to and from Japan and raising money to donate to disaster relief and recovery.
Fundraising efforts over the coming year include donation boxes placed on all AirAsia, AirAsiaX, AirAsia Indonesia and AirAsia Thailand flights, short and long-haul. They’ll also be selling wristbands with the promotion’s slogan and will donate all money collected to the Japan Platform, a group of 32 NGOs working to help and rebuild Japan’s stricken Tohoku region.
The promotion coincides with special fares designed to increase tourism to Japan, a vital step in rebuilding the economy. AirAsia is offering one-way economy flights from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Haneda (its primary route) for RM199 (US$66.60) and special deals for Japanese tourists wishing to head the other way.
AirAsia’s CEO Azran Osman-Rani will also join adventurer and mountain climber Khoo Swee Chiow on a climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji as part of an eight-mountain tour. The company had also previously donated cargo space on its flights to Japan to ferry humanitarian aid.
Malaysians will pay less for imported goods, online shopping in foreign stores and may even start traveling overseas more thanks to the 13-year high value of their local currency, the ringgit (RM). It’s predicted that it will rise to RM2.90 or RM2.95 per US dollar in the coming months.
The Star reports, in interviews with travel agents, that the number of Malaysians choosing overseas destinations could increase by 10% over the coming year as purchasing power rises. They cautioned travel package deals would take a while to reflect the change, though, and the stronger ringgit could also see the number of travelers to Malaysia decrease. Others disagreed, saying Malaysia remained a relatively cheap destination for travelers from wealthier countries.
Australia is already experiencing this phenomenon, where its dollar at an unprecedented US$1.08 has seen money heading out of the country in travelers’ wallets and via online stores. Shoppers are finding it easier than ever to chase bargains overseas, even leading some brick and mortar retailers to cry foul and call (unsuccessfully) for extra taxes on online purchases.