Friday, November 23, 2007

Tony Fernandes on Access to Subang Airport

AirAsia Bhd should be given equal opportunity to operate from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport in Subang as part of its strategy to develop the low-cost carrier concept in Malaysia, said group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.

“We would rather use the Subang airport than to spend another RM1bil to RM2bil for a new terminal at KL International Airport,” he told reporters after the company's AGM yesterday.

AirAsia had been pushing for the right to operate from the airport for five years, he added.

Meanwhile FireFly, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has received the green light to operate from the Subang airport, which is under Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

“The airport has good accessibility to Kuala Lumpur and infrastructure facilities that would benefit our business,” Fernandes said.

He said the low-cost carrier terminal at KLIA lacked accessibility to the city centre and that AirAsia needed “a bigger terminal'' to accommodate its growing business.

On the flight frequency for its Singapore route, Fernandes said AirAsia “should not be held back” because it had the capacity to operate more than two daily flights if it was allowed.

He said the Government should support low-cost carriers because they enabled “tourists to fly at cheaper prices”, especially during the Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

He said the low-cost carrier concept would also help promote the country's medical, tourism and education industries due to cheaper fares.

“We are concerned that Tiger Airways is catching up with our business, so are Emirates and other foreign low-cost carriers which operate in Malaysia,” he said, adding that an unfair playing field would only harm AirAsia and FireFly, and directly benefit the foreign low-cost carriers.

“We are not afraid to compete provided we are given equal access,” he said.

On rising fuel prices, Fernandes said AirAsia planned to charge a small fee of RM2 for each additional bag a customer carried but had not decided when this would be implemented.

The group would continue to make profit as long as the crude oil price remained below US$75 per barrel, he said, adding that the airline would not extend its fuel hedge given that the price of US$100 per barrel was speculative.

He said the group would suffer an annual loss of US$3mil for every dollar increase in oil price.

Source : STAR
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