Friday, October 30, 2009

SkyPark a model airport, says Najib

The new terminal is a picture of a luxury airport with operations of its services and shops in full swing.

After a RM40mil (S$16.4 ) facelift and a name change to SkyPark, Subang Termi­nal is now a model airport with impressive facilities to offer local and corporate travellers.

The refurbished former Terminal 3, which was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday, is a picture of a luxury airport with operations of its services and shops in full swing. Also present was Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.

Najib said he was especially pleased with the transformation because he had supported the project when he chaired the Cabinet Committee on investments.

“I have to confess I had some doubts that the vision could be translated into a reality. But some­how I thought it would be good for the country. Today, it has become a reality,” he said.

“Terminal 3 has been transformed into some­thing quite cool, as the youngsters would say.”

Najib expressed confidence that SkyPark, which has now surpassed the 500,000 passengers mark, would be able to achieve its annual target of two million travellers and emerge as a regional hub.

He said it had the three important prerequisites of a successful airport – connectivity, convenience and cost. “The 3Cs are embodied in Subang because it is close to the city centre and easily accessible, it has connectivity via Firefly and the cost of using the terminal is much less than the KLIA.”

Earlier, Najib launched Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia Sdn Bhd, an aerospace manufacturing and design facility near the terminal.

The facility, completed within 13 months, will initially produce composite sub-assemblies for Airbus single-aisle aircraft and assemblies for the latest state-of-the-art Airbus aircraft A350 XWB.

Source : AsiaOne
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A hotel costing 20 cents

Would you believe a hotel room for as low as 20 cents? The new low-cost Tune Hotel near Kuala Lumpur’s airport is the brain child of AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes.

“The no-frills hotel, one of a slew popping up across Asia, is the definition of budget digs and anything above the basics will cost you,” say wire services.

Despite having a no-star rating, a standard room comes with a 5-star queen bed, a hot "power shower" and a ceiling fan.

Average prices are more like US$3 but there are rooms for less than a dollar as packages.

But the room is small - to say the least - albeit clean and modern, according to several reports.
Tune hotels, similar to low-cost airlines, employ a self-service online booking system and the rates are kept low by offering limited service.

The rooms are also available for three-hour stopovers, which the hotel calls its refresher pack.

There is no television or refrigerator. Want a towel? There’s a cost. Ditto for air conditioning.

It can get steamy and hot in Malasia but Fernandes thinks bargain-hunters will pass up creature comforts.

Source : TravelMole
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AirAsia sees strong passenger load

Group CEO says carrier is ‘not yield driven but volume driven’

AirAsia Bhd, which has steadfastly widened its reach to new markets even as the financial crisis was unfolding, expects its passenger load factor to remain robust next year, according to group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.

“Our business is great. Our passenger numbers are up even during the puasa (fasting) month. Ancillary incomes are coming up very fast and we’re getting rights to many destinations,” Fernandes told StarBiz.

AirAsia’s load factor stood at 75% in the second quarter ended June 30. He said given the green shoots of economic recovery, yields were likely to improve and that things were not as gloomy as they were a year ago.

As such, “we are in a better position” now. However, he pointed out that the airline was “not yield driven but volume driven. That’s the key to a low-cost carrier (LCC).”
Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes ... ‘Ancillary incomes are coming up very fast and we’re getting rights to many destinations.’ - Filepic

In keeping with its aggressive route expansion, Fernandes said by year-end, AirAsia would add seven more routes to India.

It currently flies to four Indian destinations – Kolkata, Kochi, Tiruchirappalli and Trivandrum. It would continue its expansion mode next year as well, he said.

The carrier has deferred taking delivery of a third – or 16 of 48 – aircraft originally scheduled for 2010 and 2011 due to doubts over the timely completion of the new LCC terminal.

On whether this move might limit the airline’s capacity to tap the opportunities if there was a strong uptick in demand for air travel, he said it would be highly unlikely.

“We’ve got 82 planes! And we’re still getting deliveries. But if that’s the case, then it will just push our yields up.”

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, AirAsia said it did not have to pay any penalty for the revision of delivery dates for eight Airbus A320 aircraft, initially scheduled for delivery in 2011 to 2014 and 2015.
The deferment is because it “foresees infrastructural constraints with the current airport facilities” and needs to “optimise its fleet and avoid the costs associated with leaving idle or under-utilised aircraft” due to such limitations.

The carrier had signed an amendment agreement with Airbus SAS for the revision. Under a purchase agreement signed in 2005 and a number of amendment agreements, AirAsia had agreed to a firm order of 175 Airbus A320 aircraft.

AirAsia said the original number of deliveries in 2014 would be increased from 18 aircraft to 24 whereas, in 2015, the company would take delivery of two aircraft as opposed to none from before.

AirAsia had much earlier unwound its fuel hedges, a stance Fernandes said the airline would continue to adopt for a while, even as crude oil prices might rise next year on the back of an economic recovery.

“Even if it (oil price) reaches US$100 per barrel we’re ready for it. We are okay at the moment,” he said, pointing out that the budget carrier had overcome the turbulence even when oil prices skyrocketed to a high of US$150 a barrel.

Over the last two weeks, crude oil had been trading around US$79 a barrel, touching a high of US$81.37 last Wednesday.

“Fuel price is a fake price. Eventually it (price) will settle on real demand,” Fernandes said, adding that it was also painful to hedge sometimes, especially given the high volatility of oil prices.
As such, he said that although AirAsia might remain “naked” or unhedged, it might hedge some fuel requirement over three- to 12-month contracts.

Although there were green shoots of recovery, the economy still remained fragile, he said.
Last year, fuel prices fell sharply from US$145.29 a barrel in July to a low of US$33.87 in December. AirAsia had unwound huge hedging contracts in the third quarter last year that led it to post its first quarterly loss of RM465.5mil since its listing in 2004.

Since then, AirAsia has not got into new hedges. In any case, Fernandes said, fuel hedging only offered short-term benefits. “What we have to do is to build a sustainable business.”

Source : STAR
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Spring Airlines keen to work with AirAsia X

But the latter does not see any chemistry between them

China’s No.1 privately-owned budget carrier Spring Airlines wants to work with AirAsia X but the latter does not see any chemistry between them.

Spring Airlines chairman Wang Zhenghua could not hide his disappointment that he could not meet the AirAsia X boss even once.

“If I put it in a not so nice manner, they seem evasive. We invited them for a meeting and tried to see them. But, every time we tried to meet, they did not want to see us,” he told reporters at the Aviation Outlook Asia conference here on Wednesday.
»Spring Airlines needs to understand we are not interested in interlining code-sharing of flights« AZRAN OSMAN-RANI

Wang said his company really wanted to collaborate with the Malaysian carrier and share flight resources. He said both low-cost carriers could combine routes in China and South-East Asia to expand their passenger base.

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said his company was not looking for any profit or code-sharing model if it were to cooperate with other airlines.

“I think Spring Airlines needs to understand we are not interested in interlining code-sharing of flights. We prefer to cooperate on the basis of doing simple marketing such as I tell my passengers they can fly to Shanghai (by Spring Airlines) and you tell your customers they can fly to KL (by AirAsia X),” he said.
Azran added that the interlining code-sharing incurred costs as it required both parties to connect to each other’s system and AirAsia X wanted to keep its operational cost low.

Shanghai-based Spring Airlines flies to almost all major cities in China while AirAsia X has routes from KL to seven Chinese cities – Haikou, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Guilin.

Source : STAR
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Airline passenger demand up slightly

IATA says load factors for passenger and cargo have returned to pre-crisis levels

Passenger demand increased 0.3% in September compared with the same month last year, according to the latest figures issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Demand for international cargo was 5.4% below September 2008 levels while load factors for passenger and cargo had returned to pre-crisis levels of 77.1% and 50.8% respectively, it said.

However, IATA said the “apparent” year-on-year improvements in demand were “misleading”.
“It is largely due to comparisons with an exceptionally weak September 2008 when traffic fell sharply (minus 2.9% for passenger and minus 7.7% for cargo),” it said in a statement.

“It is far too early to call this a recovery,” IATA director-general and chief executive officer Giovanni Bisignani said in the statement.

The worst might be over but yields continued to be a disaster and costs were rising, he said.
“The airline industry remains firmly in the red with a fragile business environment.”

IATA noted that passenger demand was now 5% better than the low point reached in March this year but 6% below the peak recorded in early 2008.

Asia-Pacific carriers recorded the most significant improvement, from minus 1.6% in August to 2.1% in September, it said.

In terms of scheduled cargo demand, cargo traffic was 12% above the December 2008 low point but remained 17% below the early 2008 peak.
In the statement, IATA also condemned the British air passenger duty hike, saying that it was the wrong response to the industry trauma.

From Nov 1, the British government will increase its air passenger duty to collect £2.5bil annually from air travellers in the name of the environment, it said.

“The £2.5bil is completely disproportionate to the £572mil that it would take to offset the entire carbon footprint of British aviation,” it noted.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Malaysia Needs To Tap MICE Business Potential To The Fullest

Malaysia could do a lot more to lure high-spending business travellers by strategically marketing the country meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) facilities.

While its focus in the past has been to promote conventional tourism, many tourism experts, who recently attended Asia's largest tourism fair, ITB Asia 2009, in Singapore, said Malaysia shoud aggressively promote itself in this sector.

Long-haul leisure tourism is fast becoming a luxury for many in the traditional markets, given the rising costs, declining incomes, high unemployment and a general mood of economic gloom and doom.

But business travel will continue to be popular despite the increased cost consciousness of many corporations that are in a penny-pinching mood and are aggressively cutting costs.

"However, companies recognise while they must cut costs they still need to avail of the MICE facilities in attractive destinations.

"Malaysia, unlike Singapore, needs to bolster its image on the international circuit as a MICE destination.

"It has beautiful landscape, beaches and wild life, not to mention golf courses which would appeal to corporate representatives," said Lothar Marzinger, a German/Swiss MICE specialist who "overwhelmed" by Malaysia's sheer natural beauty.

Tourism Malaysia, which has been promoting the country in a number of markets has yet to make an impact on the MICE business.

Though many American and European MICE delegates participated in events in Malaysia, - the KLCC in Kuala Lumpur is a popular venue for Western professionals.

The "hit-or-miss" approach would not be quite effective in the long run, given the fierce competition Malaysia faces from Singapore and Thailand.

Vietnam, Indonesia and others are also equally interested in joining the fray to capture a larger slice of the MICE pie.

Zalizam Zakaria, the Director of Tourism Malaysia in Singapore, was candid enough to acknowledge that his office would aim for more incentive programmes from ASIA.

MICE, according to Zalizam, accounted for only 5 per cent of Malaysia's tourist arrivals.

"We want to increase the share (of MICE participants in the overall arrivals in Malaysia) to 10 per cent," he said, adding that a special MICE body called MyCEB has been established and performance is expected to improve.

A bright spot for Malaysia was the interest generated amongst some MICE planners with the recent opening of the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching.

Sarawak tourism representatives told Bernama at the ITB Asia 2009 in Singapore that they expect to see more high-end hotels opening in Sarawak, predicting that some 1,686 four-star hotel rooms would be added in 2010.

One of the new hotels under construction, according to the Sarawak Tourism Board, is the 33-storey Kuching Tower adjacent to the convention centre.

A hotel will occupy the top 18 floors of the building, scheduled to open in 2010.

The Borneo Convention Centre is currently rated as the largest meeting venue in Kuching, with a total floor area of 36,500 sq metres; its pillar-free Great Hall has a capacity for 5,000 delegates.

Several other impressive properties recently opened in Kuching including the Novotel with 388 rooms while a number of properties have been given a facelift such as the Damai Puri Resort in Damai and the Hornbill Borneo Highlands Golf Resort which are premium properties on the outskirts of Kuching.

Tourism Malaysia could, for example, make a strategic bid at next year's ITB Asia in Singapore where the organiser, Messe Berlin, which also organised the world's largest tourism show called ITB Berlin, will hold a two-day "Associations Programme @ ITB Asia 2010".

Malaysian players in the MICE sector would have an opportunity to establish contacts with international experts such as the American Society of Association Executives, The Center for Association Leadership and Suntec Singapore.

The initiative, according to Messe Berlin, will attract exhibitors such as convention centres, resorts and hotels, professional conference organisers, destination management companies, solution providers and convention and visitor bureaus from the Asian region.

An impressive speaker line-up, according to Messe Berlin, is being compiled for the Associations' programme.

"The MICE world is very large," said Martin Buck, Vice President of Messe Berlin (Singapore), in an interview with this writer.

"Within it, our focus will be on expanding ITB Asia by introducing the growing associations' meeting sector. We will invite a compelling international group of speakers.

"They will share their real-case experiences with the industry and it should greatly benefit everyone joining the programme," he added.

ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership will provide valuable content for the Associations Programme through their expertise on topics such as global trends in association management and resource development for small to medium associations.

Buck, an expert on Asian markets, said: " Over the next couple of months, we will put top-level partnerships in place. The objective is to have a strong association programme that will add an exciting new component to ITB Asia from 2010 onwards," he said.

ITB Asia 2009 attracted 679 exhibitor organisations to the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The majority of exhibitors were from the leisure travel segment with MICE exhibitors and corporate travel coming in second and third respectively.

Source : Bernama
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Inactive tourist operators licences revoked

Some 100 tourist operators have had their operating licences revoked after they were found to be inactive over the last three years.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said one of the main criteria to avoid their licences being revoked was to stay active in business consistently.
“This is nothing new because every year, my ministry will scrutinise all operators to ensure they comply with the stipulated requirements.
“They should make full use of every opportunity available to spur tourism activities and generate growth for the country in the tourism sector.
“We expect the operators to be responsible, committed and conduct their business pro­fessionally as they also portray the image of the country,” she said when met here recently.
Dr Ng, who is also Raub MP, said locals, particularly youths could help the country in promoting tourist attractions.
She said they could assume the role of tourist guides by giving explanations on certain local attractions, including the country’s unique flora and fauna, arts and culture.
“They can offer themselves to be a guide by brushing up on their interpersonal and communications skills and in the process, make some side income.
“There are ample opportunities available for locals to help promote the country, and it’s a win-win situation,” she said, adding that locals residing in the respective areas had better knowledge of tourist attraction sites and could give more information to visitors than full-time guides based in big cities.
Dr Ng said it was a good opportunity for the locals to gain some working experience and decide later if they were keen on career in the tourism sector.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia And AirAsia X Jointly Win CAPA's Airline Of The Year

Exeptional achievement, brilliant innovations and constant positive growth despite the global economic crisis has won the AirAsia group double Ace.

AirAsia and AirAsiaX jointly won the prestigious Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Airline of the Year Award for 2009 here Wednesday night.

The awards were presented at the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence presentation ceremony here, while its Group CEO, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was also conferred the CAPA Legend Award (Aviation Hall of Fame) for 2009.

The CAPA Awards Ceremony was held as part of this year's sixth annual Asia Aviation Outlook summit here.

The two-day event showcased airline and airport CEOs from around the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.

"It is a big hounour, we are very proud indeed, we beat Singapore Airline, China Airline, Cathay shows that Malaysia can be the best," said Tony Fernandes when asked to comment on the company's achievement.

Source : Bernama
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M'sia Records Double-digit Growth In Visitor Arrivals To S'pore

Malaysia and Indonesia, which were two of Singapore's top five visitor-generating markets last month, recorded double-digit growth in their tourist arrivals to the city-state.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said Malaysia and Indonesia registered double-digit growth of 51.2 per cent and 26.8 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2008 due to the Hari Raya holidays taking place last month.

In its monthly report released today, the STB said that visitor arrivals to the city-state registered its first growth of 7.1 per cent on year to reach 799,000 in September 2009.

However, hotel room revenue was estimated to reach S$140 million last month, a drop of 28.0 per cent against September 2008.

Among the top five markets, Indonesia led the pack with 183,000 visitors, followed by Australia (73,000 visitors), Malaysia (68,000 visitors), China (60,000 visitors) and India (57,000 visitors).

These five markets accounted for 55.2 per cent of total visitor arrivals for the month.

The STB said that Japan posted its first growth of 7.7 per cent this year due to the country's Silver Week holidays.

Other markets that also saw growth compared to September 2008 were Vietnam (9.0 per cent), India (6.7 per cent), Germany (5.0 per cent), the United Kingdom (1.4 per cent) and Australia (0.8 per cent).

Source : Bernama
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baby born on plane named after AirAsia

Baby born on plane named after AirAsia

SEPANG, MALAYSIA : The baby boy, who created national headlines when he was born on an AirAsia plane, has been named Asia Liew Ya Hang.

His mother Liew Siaw Hsia said the Chinese name ‘Ya Hang’ means ‘AirAsia’ in Mandarin.

“It’s the best name I can give my son who was the first baby born on the airline’s plane,” she said in a statement yesterday.

The mother and baby are currently at the Putrajaya Hospital.

Asia Liew Ya Hang was safely delivered on board Flight AK 6506 on Oct 21 when the aircraft was about 800m in the air.

The flight from Penang to Kuching was diverted to the low-cost carrier terminal here when Liew went into premature labour.

The airline has presented Liew and the baby free flight tickets for life to celebrate the birth.

Source : AsiaOne
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Best Western Premier Seri Pacific Hotel expects more guests following its RM42mil upgrading

MENTION Best Western Premier Seri Pacific, and many people would probably have no idea where it is.
However, the name would likely ring a bell with those who have attended major events at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur, such as the recent Umno general assembly. For, the hotel is the PWTC’s closest neighbour, and hence is the accommodation of choice for participants of big events at the PWTC,.

In an effort to create more awareness of the hotel and to give it a new look, the hotel management has completely refurbished the premises.

“We have spent RM42mil over the last two years on the upgrading exercise and it is now about 95% done. The lobby and arrival area are the last to be worked on.
Cosy: The rooms are tastefully done
“We did not do any promotion in the past because of this renovation work, but now we are ready,” hotel manager A. Hadi Yusuf said, adding that the new look was expected to attract more guests from the business sector.
He said the refurbishment was part of the effort to create a new image for the hotel in its rebranding exercise.
The renovation has given the hotel, which was previously known as Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur, a totally new look, he added.
In contrast to the business look the hotel had sported previously, it now has a more inviting, warmer feel with its tropical theme.
Colours like dark red, green, brown and orange lend a contemporary touch, matched with dark-coloured wooden furniture in the rooms and the food and beverage outlets.
Matching curtains give the premises a classy feel.
“We started with the rooms as they were the hardest to redo since we had guests coming in and going out. Besides, we wanted to start with our customers — hotel guests — hence the rooms were given priority.
All-day dining: The newly refurbished Zende Restaurant in the Best Western Premier Seri Pacific Hotel is inviting with its chic, contemporary style. The restaurant offers Asian and International cuisine for casual, all-day-dining.
“Then we worked on the other facilities, including the cafe and spa,” he said.
In line with its general theme, the rooms are painted in warm tropical colours, with green, brown, orange, dark red and earth tones.
“We have given the rooms a completely new look from the ceiling to the floor.
“The carpets are no more; instead, we are using a combination of tiles at the entrance of the room and the bathroom.
“The rest of the room now features wood flooring,” he said.
For a more contemporary and chic look, glass panels and wood are used for the whole room.
Each of the 565 rooms has an ironing area, with board and iron tucked in a corner, hidden in a closed cabinet on the wall. The mini bar is given the same treatment. The only indication of the presence of these facilities is the label on the cabinet door that tells guests where these facilities are.
Stylishly furnished, each room is also equipped with a LCD, flat screen television set, varying in size from from 32-inch (superior) to 42-inch (executive suite).
Guests staying in the executive suites on the 29th floor enjoy additional features, such as sofa bed, additional bathroom, dining area with a sink and a bigger fridge, and wake up to a breath-taking view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, including the KL Tower and Twin Towers.
Blending business with leisure, the hotel spoils guests with the facilities and extra services.
Exclusive lounge: Guests staying in the Premier Club Floor rooms can also enjoy the exclusivity of dining at The Premier Lounge on the same floor. There is also a private conference room, business centre and television entertainment lounge, and guests have the services of their own butler.
“Guests in the Premier Club Floor rooms can also enjoy the exclusivity of dining at The Premier Lounge located on the same floor.
“There is also a private conference room, business centre and television entertainment lounge, and they have their own butler.
“They will be pampered while they are staying with us,” he said.
Other services, such as wi-fi, also come with the package.
Meanwhile, those staying in the deluxe and superior rooms on the lower floors can also enjoy a relaxing time in the hotel’s spa, which has individual massage rooms besides sauna and jacuzzi.
A. Hadi said the hotel previously only offered a spa for guys but now it is also offering the same facility for the fairer sex.
“We enjoy an average occupancy rate of between 65% and 70%, with full occupancy during the recent Umno general assembly.
“We are still the choice whenever there is a major event at the PWTC,” he said.
Located in Jalan Putra, Best Western Premier Seri Pacific Hotel Kuala Lumpur is only a few minutes away from shopping complexes and the city centre.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fabulous Food 1Malaysia aimed at boosting tourism

STARTING this year, the last three months of each year will be Fabulous Food 1Malaysia months to celebrate and promote Malaysia’s unique local cuisine, both at home and abroad.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this was a new product for the ministry and an annual event to further boost the development of the tourism industry.

“The programme celebrates the unique and diverse fabulous Malaysian culinary fare that so aptly conveys the rich cultural tapestry of Malaysia,” she said at the launch of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia logo and yearly programme in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

The three-month-long initiative started early this month with the Malaysian International Gourmet Food Festival, which promotes the various fine-dining options at several hotels and restaurants.

Under the programme, Dr Ng said, November would be a month for promoting dishes in the food courts of shopping malls.

“We will launch the Asean Heritage Food Trail with Chef Wan at the end of October,” she said.
The event is organised in collaboration with Chef Wan Sdn Bhd and offers the rich and diverse cuisine from the Asean countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“In November, foreign visitors and Malaysians alike will have the opportunity to savour food from these countries and watch renowned chefs cooking up their signature dishes at Lot 10 and Avenue K shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.

December will be the month to promote Malaysian restaurants and street/hawker food.

Dr Ng said the participating local food associations, such as the Hawkers Association, would put up a list of 10 “best” or “must-try” food outlets in each of the 13 states in three categories.
The three categories are Nasi Lemak, Laksa and Bak Kut Teh.

Dr Ng said the categories were to help visitors navigate their way through the country’s local food maze.
“It is hoped that the Fabulous Food 1Malasyia drive will also create a buzz and encourage conversation among local residents,” she added.

She said that in future, visitors would also be able to go on specially planned Fabulous Food 1Malaysia travel packages that would introduce them to the spicy and other food that was truly Malaysian.

Meanwhile, Dr Ng claimed that she had received information that business had increased by about 20% for Singpore’s hawkers after the food conflict started.

“Here in Malaysia, the Hawkers Association said their business had also increased and in Johor, the hawkers’ business had increased by 20% to 30%.

Source : STAR
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Tiger Airways Takes Off Empty Leaving Passengers Behind

Intending passengers were left angry after a Tiger Airways plane flew to Melbourne from Hobart without them after a flight attendant fell ill, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

The 140 passengers were left at Hobart airport last Friday night and many were stranded for three days while waiting for seats on the one-flight-a-day Tiger service to Melbourne.

The flight attendant at the centre of the incident was attended to by paramedics at the airport and later joined the empty flight back to Melbourne with other crew.

A Tiger spokeswoman told AAP that under air safety regulations planes must have a certain number of cabin crew before they could fly with passengers.

No replacement for the sick steward on Flight TT567 was available in Hobart.

The plane left Hobart for Melbourne without passengers because it had to service other routes the next day from 6am, the spokeswoman said.

Passengers who missed connecting interstate flights included an intending best man at a wedding and a man who had planned to welcome his daughter-in-law home from overseas.

Source : Bernama
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Radio Interview with Chloe Lim - Hotel Club

With the burgeoning number of online travel operators saturating the market, HotelClub's managing director, Chloe Lim explains how it differentiates itself and pulls ahead of the competition. She also shares how the internet has changed the tourism landscape.

Although the global tourism industry has been impacted by global economic turmoil and H1N1 influenza scare, HotelClub remains unperturbed as it is still seeing healthy growth in the Asian market.

Interview 1

Interview 2

Source : BFM
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Monday, October 26, 2009

AirAsia says Q3 passenger traffic up 19pc

Local budget carrier AirAsia carried 19 per cent more passengers in the third quarter from a year earlier, the company said today.

Southeast Asia’s largest low-cost airline by fleet size said it carried a total of 3.6 million passengers during the quarter.

The airline’s passenger carrying capacity, measured in available seat kilometres, expanded by 13 per cent after it took delivery of new aircraft.

Third-quarter seat load factor, or the percentage of total seats fill, was unchanged at 75 per cent from a year ago, it said.

AirAsia said these figures are preliminary and have not been reviewed by its auditors. — Reuters

Source : TMI
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Government To Further Intensify Tourism Industry

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today tourist arrivals remained high, averaging two million per month, despite the weak global economic environment and the outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.

Najib, who is also the finance minister, said that as at August this year, the tourist arrivals increased 4.4 per cent to 15.4 million compared with 14.7 million during the same period last year.

"To further intensify the tourism industry, the government will allocate a total of RM899 million in 2010," he said when tabling Budget 2010 in the Dewan Rakyat.

Najib said that among the main programmes to be implemented were to attract more participants from Britain, Japan, South Korea, the Middle East, India and China to participate in the "Malaysia My Second Home" (MM2H) programme.

Another was to upgrade the quality of infrastructure in tourism centres throughout the country, such as ecotourism development and upgrading of homestay facilities, he said.

Najib said efforts would be made to ensure that front liners in the tourism sector were locals and, in this regard, the service of foreign workers employed as front liners would be terminated in stages.

He said the government would utilise Internet-based advertising to promote tourism activities and would provide more attractive tourism products and events, including the KL Grand Prix Fest, National Water Festival, Rain Forest EcoChallenges and Malaysia International Golf Exhibition as well as launch a large-scale shopping mall for branded items based on the factory outlet concept.

"The tourism industry has the potential to be further developed, given its high value added, including ecotourism, edutourism and health tourism," he said.

He said that to further promote the medical tourism industry, the government would enhance tax incentives for healthcare service providers who offer services to foreign health tourists.

"Income tax exemption of 50 per cent on the value of increased exports will be increased to 100 per cent. This enables healthcare service providers to offer high quality health services and attract more health tourists," he said.

The prime minister also said that to strengthen information communication technology (ICT) the government would expedite the implementation of High Speed Broadband at a total cost of RM11.3 billion, of which RM2.4 billion was from the government and RM8.9 billion from Telekom Malaysia.

"Initially, broadband services with the speed of 10 mega bytes per second (Mbps) will be provided in selected areas in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by end-March 2010.

"Subsequently, these services will be extended to other selected areas nationwide between 2010 and 2012," he said.

Najib said current broadband penetration was 25 per cent and that in order to attain developed nation status, computer ownership and broadband penetration should be enhanced.

He said that to further enhance broadband penetration, the government proposed that individual taxpayers be given tax relief on broadband subscription fee up to RM500 a year from 2010 to 2012.

The prime minister also said that to encourage computer ownership, civil servants would be allowed to apply for computer loans once in every three years compared to one in every five years now, and the with the quantum of the loans at a maximum of RM5,000.

Najib also announced measures to further advance the "halal" industry, such as:

- to formulate the Halal Act in collaboration with the state Islamic Affairs Department, which will be the basis for the development, regulation and enforcement of "halal" industry activities.

- to corporatise the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) as an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The agency will prepare and implement an action plan for the development of the "halal" industry.

- intensify Halal Certification by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) by collaborating with international institutions to obtain standards certification, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point and Good Manufacturing Practice. This will enable Jakim "halal" certificates to be internationally recognised.

- developing the "halal" products anti-smuggling system at three entry points and three main ports to facilitate agencies, such as the customs department, veterinary services department and Jakim to prevent smuggling activities as well as reduce the risk of pandemic diseases, for which RM24 million will be provided.

Source : Bernama
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MAS system upgrade to disrupt reservations on Oct 31

Malaysia Airlines will upgrade its reservations system next weekend, resulting in 13 hours of downtime for the entire system both at its facilities or online site.

The system upgrade is scheduled from 11pm on Oct 31 to 12pm on Nov 1, during which the reservations and ticketing services at the call centre, ticket offices and the web booking facility will be inaccessible.
However, all other services, including check-in, will continue operations.

“The upgrade will take 13 hours, and we are doing this over the weekend to minimise any inconvenience to our passengers. To ensure a seamless travel experience, we encourage customers to complete all their travel requirements before 31 October 2009,” said Malaysia Airlines’ General Manager, Transition Management, Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani.

Salleh advised customers to conclude any transactions early and to avoid making any changes during the upgrade period. He also encouraged customers to contact MAS’ call centre at 1300 88 3000 and provide their mobile numbers to enable the airline to contact them promptly should there be any changes to their flight.

“During the upgrade period, customers may opt to use the web, counter services or the self check-in kiosk at the KL International Airport. Please check in on time. If you are checking in from the airport, it’s an hour before for domestic and 2 hours for international flights. From KL Sentral, it’s 2 hours for domestic and 3 hours for international flights,” said Salleh.

Source : TMI
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Accor Hotel Group - One-Million Room SALE

Accor hotel group is putting one million rooms throughout Asia-Pacific on sale online from October 27 to 29, 2009. The promotion, which allows savings of up to 60 percent, applies to stays between December 1, 2009 and February 28, 2010.
Over 240 hotels are participating, offering rooms from US$51 per night. Accor brands covered in the sale are Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, ibis and All Seasons.
Ray Stone, Accor Asia-Pacific's senior vice-president sales and marketing, said that after a "challenging year on everyone's budget", Accor wanted to offer travellers a respite, and hence, the deep discounting.
Following a similar promotion in February, the hotel group set rates by country and currency, rather than by brands or category of the property. A stay at any Novotel hotel in Australia would cost the same as any Ibis hotel there as well. (Refer to the chart below for more details.)
The public will be able to book on October 27, 28 and 29, while Accor Advantage Plus and A|Club members can get in one day earlier, October 26.

For more details, visit

Source : BusinessTraveller
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Malaysia Makes Strong Bid To Attract Asian Tourists

Despite growing competition from Asian destinations, cost-conscious tourists seeking to get the best value for their money, and depreciating value of the US dollar, Malaysia made a strong bid at the ITB Asia 2009 in Singapore to attract Asian and other tourists.

The ITB Asia, an Asian edition of the ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism event, made its debut last year against the backdrop of the Asian tourist's growing spending power.

While emphasising that Asia had become an important source of tourism traffic, Martin Buck, the Vice President of Messe Berlin, the organiser of the ITB Asia 2009, spoke about the "great significance" of the Asean region.

"The Asean region is an important market for outbound traffic.

"Vietnam is an upcoming destination as well as a market. So also is Thailand and Singapore," Buck said.

Asia's growing importance both as a destination and a source of traffic was also reflected in the fact that some 70 per cent of all hosted buyers at the ITB Asia were from Asia, up from 56 per cent in 2008, according to Buck.

Malaysian tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and tourism agencies made a strong bid to court Asian tourists.

Megat Shahrul, Tourism Manager of the Langkawi Development Authority, said given Langkawi economy's "total dependence" on tourism, the island was interested to court tourists not only from its traditional markets in Europe and Australia but also from Singapore, Thailand and other Asian countries.

Megat confirmed he had received "lots of enquiries" from Indian tour operators.

"Langkawi as a tourism destination should be, particularly, interesting for Indian couples wanting to spend their honeymoon on the island," he said in an interview with Bernama.

Megat cited the case of a mammoth wedding which Langkawi had organised for an Indian couple from Mumbai and brought in an entire wedding party to Langkawi.

"The money spent on food, drinks, wedding arrangements and other items amounted to RM 3 million. That benefited many segments of the economy. The wedding guests stayed at the Taj Rebala and Westin hotels," he added.

Angelina C. Fernandez, Head of Marketing and Communications of Firefly Sdn. Bhd, a subsidiary airline of Malaysia Airline, highlighted the fact that her airline was participating for the first time at the Singapore show because it would get "visibility" at the event.

She pointed out that Firefly, which was established in 2007, had acquired seven ATR 72-500 aircraft.

"Our airline is ideally suited for flying to destinations where the wide-bodied aircraft do not fly," she said.

She said Firefly received "many enquiries" from agents in South Africa, Germany, India and Hungary.

"These agents are looking for point-to-point business as they were unable to do so in the past."

Firefly, according to Fernandez, benefited from the economic downturn "because our fares are very competitive" for the cost-conscious travellers.

A key expression of confidence in Malaysia as a destination was provided by a spokesperson of Carlson Hotels Worldwide which is setting up two properties in Kuala Lumpur.

Xerxes Meher Homji, the Singapore-based Executive Vice President (Asia/Pacific) of Carlson Hotels Worldwide said two hotels belonging to the Carlson stable would be set up near the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

"Construction work on the hotels will start early next year and the hotels are expected to be completed in three years," Homji said.

Jill Henry, Chief Executive Officer of the Sarawak Convention Board, was promoting her state as a convention centre.

She stated that Sarawak is the "first of all Malaysian states to start a convention board which is autonomous from the tourism board.

"The convention activities in Sarawak are, generally, linked with nature as the background.

"This is a refreshing approach for many customers in the convention business," Henry said.

Besides the new Kuching convention centre, the state also has additional convention capacity provided by two new hotels Sheraton and Pullman.

"This gives us a total capacity of 15,000 for the convention business," she said, adding that ITB Asia served her as a "learning ground" where she was able to make contacts with the intermediaries and learn more about the distribution channels.

Juggling with figures, Zalizam Zakaria, the Director of Tourism Malaysia in Singapore, expressed "satisfaction" with the flow of traffic from Singapore to Malaysia.

"Traffic from Singapore between January and August 2009 was good, totalling nearly 8.3 million, a 13.4 per cent growth over the year-early period," Zalizam said.

He was confident that the target of 11 million arrivals from Singapore for 2009 would be reached despite the economic downturn.

Zalizam is trying to encourage Singaporeans to visit other non-traditional destinations in Malaysia such as Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Terengganu and not just confine themselves to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Johor Bahru.

Source : Bernama
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Resorts World Sentosa offers 45,000 jobs

Resorts World Sentosa, which is expected to open its doors early next year, will provide up to 45,000 job opportunities.

The resort’s assistant director of communications, Robin Goh, said the vast employment opportunities created would also help boost the economic situation in the region.

“Resorts World Sentosa is a one-of-a-kind destination and will definitely attract much interest,” he said during a media familiarisation tour on Tuesday.

He added that the company had already sent a batch of employees to be trained overseas.

“They have been sent to Universal Studios in Orlando, United States, for robust training exercises and have returned to share their knowledge with the locals,” he said.

Goh said most Singaporeans did not have experience in the casino or theme park industry as the organisation was the first to open one in the city-state.

He said various jobs with specific expertise would also be offered to international employees.

“Employment priority will be given to locals but if we cannot get them, we will open it to those from other countries,” he added.

Resorts World Sentosa CEO Tan Hee Teck said the project, one of the most expensive tourism projects in the world, cost over US$4.4bil (RM14.8bil).

“One of the main draws of the resort will be Universal Studios Singapore, which will feature more than 24 different rides for visitors,” he said.

He said the park was expected to generate over S$4.5mil (RM10.8mil) in the first year.

Universal Studios Singapore includes seven different themed zones such as Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar.

Source : STAR
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Majestic Kuala Lumpur Hotel in a sorry state

ONE would expect a hotel nestled in lush greenery and located on prime land in town to have booming business but the fact is that the Majestic Kuala Lumpur is as silent as a tomb. Passers-by will not even notice it, majestic or otherwise.

Designed by Dutch architect Von Leangeanderg, the hotel was built in 1932 and is located on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, opposite the Kuala Lumpur railway station and next to the KTMB headquarters.

Boasting 51 rooms, the hotel became a landmark of the town and was ranked among the best places to stay in the region according to Jery Kilker, 77, a retired officer with the World Health Organisation.

“I was excited at the opportunity to stay at the Majestic back in 1973. The hotel was ranked eighth in a popular guide but was more a basic travellers hotel than a holiday resort,” Kilker, an American living in the French Alps said in an e-mail interview.

Sad ending: An auctioneer showing a tea pot that was one of the many items including cups and saucers being auctioned off from the orchestra stand located in the Majestic Kuala Lumpur lounge in January 1984 when the hotel closed to make way for the National Art Gallery.

Kilker who was sent by the United Nations’ regional office in Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for work then, stayed at the hotel for a week and remembers the building as having little decorative detail.

“Looking out a window at the back of the hotel, I saw a family of monkeys going about their lives as usual. It looked like a scene from a sunny forest glade and there were no other buildings in sight,” Kilker said.

The hotel was acquired by the government under the Land Acquisition Act in 1983 which resulted in a furore over the hotel’s fate. Some people were against changing it into something other than a hotel.

While the building’s future use became a topic of discussion at that point, the building’s fate itself was sealed as it was gazetted as a national heritage site under the Antiquities Act, thus it cannot be destroyed or changed in any way.

The reason the government gave for taking over the building was that only a few could appreciate it as a cultural site if it remained a hotel.

And so, on Dec 31, 1983, the hotel staff clocked out for the last time.

Broken: The Kuala Lumpur railway station can be viewed from the windows facing the front of the hotel.

Eventually, after much debate and an auction selling off all of the hotel’s officially stamped teapots, cups and saucers, the National Art Gallery moved into the premises in 1984.

The public’s access to the place lasted for only 14 years as the gallery moved out in 1998 to its own building that was built by YTL Corporation Bhd under a privatisation deal with the government.

In the deal, YTL Corporation will have to turn the former hotel building into a classic hotel that will be managed by them.

However, until today, the building still stands but falling into a state of disrepair.

An article in 1995 mentioned that YTL would be carrying out renovation work in the building’s interior and a new block with 300 rooms and other luxury hotel amenities will be added.

When YTL Hotels and Properties Sdn Bhd was contacted, a representative said that so far there are no new updates on the hotel plans.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get ride of your life on twin roller coasters at Universal Studios Singapore

THEME-PARK lovers will soon get the chance to ride on the world’s tallest duelling roller coasters and escape from a Tyrannosaurus rex on a whitewater raft.

Universal Studios Singapore in Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) has unveiled 20 out of its 24 slated rides and attractions– 18 of which are unique to Singapore.

The highlight of the theme park is the duelling roller coasters.

Standing at 42.5m, it is the tallest pair of its kind and the first to have two different types of coasters – one seated and the other suspended.

Both will be launched at the same time and experience near misses with each other.

There will also be 13 eateries serving classic American food and Asian cuisine, and 12 retail outlets selling souvenirs, apparel and film merchandise.

An RWS spokesman said that the remaining four attractions would be introduced progressively to encourage repeat visits.

RWS, which has invested over US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) in the park, expects 4.5 million visitors in the first year.

Opening hours have not been finalised and admission fees will be announced at a later date.

Said Mr John Hallenbeck, director of park operations: “The pricing structure is in its final stages right now so we don't have the exact prices, but they will be competitive with those of the other theme parks.”

There are three other Universal Studio theme parks – in Hollywood and Orlando in the United States, and Osaka, Japan.

A day pass to the park in Hollywood costs US$69 (S$96), while Osaka charges 5,800 yen (S$89).

And visitors need not worry about Singapore’s tropical heat– 70 per cent of the park will be sheltered.

There will also be air-coolers and fans around the park, and some queues will be air-conditioned.

The 20ha theme park is at the end stages of construction.

It is the first in South-east Asia and will open to the public in the first quarter of next year.

Malaysia Airport expects 3%-4% growth in passenger volume

Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects passenger volume to grow by between three and four per cent by year-end.

Its managing director, Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid, said although it expected either a five per cent drop in passenger volume or a stagnant growth, it was fortunate that there was an increase in tourism volume.

"Tourism here is doing well even during the downturn.

"Last year, we experienced a growth of about five per cent, or around 45 million (passengers) in all our airports. This year we expect to have around 47 million," he told a press conference here on Tuesday.

Bashir said MAHB was expected to attract two more airlines by year-end.

He, however, declined the name the airlines.

Earlier, MAHB's five international airports became the first in Asia to receive the Safety Management System (SMS) certification in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) recommendation and the Department of Civil Aviation's advice.

Bashir said MAHB would implement the system at all its domestic airports even though it was not required by ICAO.

The SMS certification indicates conformance with safety requirements and continuous improvement in safety performance including essential features such as policy, strategy and planning, implementation, promotion, documentation, staff training and competency.

Bashir said he was "very proud" because MAHB's success was achieved using local know-how.

The five certified airports are Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Penang International Airport, Langkawi International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Kuching International Airport.

Source : STAR
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Tourism board making losses

THE Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board has not turned in a single ringgit of profit despite making investments of RM41.9mil since its inception in January 1976.

The Auditor-General’s Report revealed that the ministry’s subsidiary Pembangunan Pelancongan Nasional Sdn Bhd (Pempena) had not done due diligence before making its investments.

The report also found that seven subsidiary and 17 associated companies under Pempena suffered cumulative losses of RM32.37mil until Dec 31 last year.

Six of the seven companies recorded a RM3.74mil loss in 2007. Only one company, Malaysian Travel Business Sdn Bhd, made a profit of RM438,240 in 2007 after taxes.

According to the report, Pempena would record RM40.03mil in overall losses from its investments and initial capital outlay of RM52.86mil for the 24 entities.

“Pempena has made investments in subsidiary companies that are not viable because it has not done due diligence as a whole before making the investments,” the report said. It added that Pempena’s investments in its seven subsidiary companies and 17 associated companies were not presented and discussed with the board prior to approval.

“Pempena only informed the board after the investments were made,” it said.

The board in reply said it would report to the Finance or Tourism Ministry to withdraw the Government’s investments from subsidiaries that failed to declare dividends for three consecutive years.

The report also found that the board neglected to set up a committee responsible for valuing and monitoring its investments in the companies.

In its response, the board said it would form investment committees on “project basis” if its subsidiaries decided to make new investments.

“The audit also found that the board did not have any long-term and short-term strategic plans for the entire organisation,” it said.

In reply, the Board said it held a Strategic Planning and Direction workshop from Oct 16 to 18 as per the recommendations of the Auditor-General.

In response to the Auditor-General’s Report, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said yesterday that the ministry had a special committee looking into the losses incurred by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board,

She said the ministry was aware of all the issues, and was almost at the end to its investigation into the losses.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

X-ray-ted: British airport scanner reveals all

A British airport has started using a security scanner which produces naked X-ray images of travellers complete with genitalia, body piercings and breast implants, officials said Tuesday.

Staff at Manchester airport in northwest England, where it is on trial, say the machine takes a black and white picture of each passenger which is examined by one security officer before being deleted.

Travellers who do not like the idea can instead opt for the traditional frisking procedure, but the new machine speeds up the security process as it does not require passengers to remove coats, shoes or belts.

"Most of our customers do not like the traditional ‘pat down’ search –they find it too intrusive, but they still want to be kept safe,” said Sarah Barrett, the airport’s head of customer experience.

"This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress. The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way."

The machines, already in use at a number of US airports, are designed to detect any hidden weapons or explosives before they are taken on board planes.

Malaysia targets 2010 arrivals surge

TOURISM Malaysia has set a target of 22 million tourist arrivals for 2010, up three million from this year's target of 19 million arrivals.

Cumulative tourist arrivals recorded from January to August 2009 totalled 15.4 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent compared to 14.7 million for the same period in 2008.

For 2010, Tourism Malaysia will continue to keep regional markets as the main focus of its marketing efforts, while longhaul markets will not be neglected, said Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general (marketing) Amirrudin Abu.

Abu added: "We will also see how we can promote Malaysia to complement Singapore's integrated resorts (Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa). We can be to Singapore what Shenzhen is to Hong Kong. We will strengthen bilateral agreements with the Singapore NTO and work more closely with Singapore's travel trade."

Source : TTG
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

AirAsia launches first regional brand campaign in Southeast Asia

AirAsia has rolled out its first brand campaign covering all its key markets in Southeast Asia.

Dubbed 'Have you flown AirAsia?', the campaign will launch across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia tomorrow and is touted as the airline’s largest and most extensive regional brand campaign to date.

The campaign aims to shift consumers’ mindset of the airline beyond that of a low-cost carrier and showcases the company’s "innovation, high quality service and unique experience", according to a release.

AirAsia’s media agency partner, PHD Singapore, worked with regional channel partners Star network, Discovery Channel and CNN, to roll out a TVC which was directed and produced by the late Yasmin Ahmad of Leo Burnett.

Besides the TVC, the campaign will feature other tactical executions including a series of vignettes featuring popular Star VJs around landmark music festivals and lifestyle events in the region, a series of graphic-based factoids on Discovery and an interview-styled advertorial featuring AirAsia group CEO
Tony Fernandes on CNN.

The campaign, which runs until December, will also include print and online executions, including a
dedicated microsite.

“Today’s consumers are easier to reach but much harder to engage. Therefore focusing on key channels, publications and social media networks that our target audience identifies with is key,” said William Low, AirAsia’s regional head of branding and culture.

“The integrated format in which we have launched this campaign is a great example of how television, print and social media can work together to engage well-travelled consumers today”, added Pat Lim, MD of PHD Singapore.

Source : MediaAsia
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Airasia Records Increase In Sales Through Low Fare Madness Campaign

AirAsia's "Low Fare Madness" campaign has helped the low cost airline record a more than 60 per cent increase in sales.

Due to the good response, the promotion period from Oct 5-11, has been extended to Oct 18 for the travel period of Oct 19 to Nov 19 this year.

It applies to all seats and flights from Malaysia but excluding that of AirAsia X.

"Customers have also responded positively response to our GoHoliday packages with guests being offered exclusive last minute hot deals and fantastic options on ground tour arrangements including free rooms at over 180 Asia Pacific hotels online at," Kathleen Tan, the Regional Head of Commercial for AirAsia Group said in a statement, Thursday.

AirAsia's Low Fare Madness promotion is to encourage guests to plan their travel on week days rather than weekends.

Source : Bernama
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AirAsia, named Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier

AirAsia Bhd was named the “Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier” while chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was named “Travel Personality of The Year” by leading Asia-Pacific travel news publisher TTG.

AirAsia received the award for being the best in service, network and schedules; in dealings with travel agents for reservations, confirmations and commission payments; and in sales and marketing team professionalism. It won the same award in 2005 and 2008.

“AirAsia was unanimously named ‘Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier’ by the readers of TTG Asia, TTG China, TTGmice and TTG-BTmice who cast 43,000 votes in a poll held from June to August this year,” the company said in a statement yesterday.

“The award reflects the airline’s popularity among travel trade insiders and the travelling public.”

Meanwhile, TTG’s editorial board named Fernandes the “Travel Personality of The Year” for being the “most outstanding individual for taking proactive steps to develop the travel industry and for demonstrating innovation in his field.”

“Tony has led the airline in revolutionising air travel and popularising low fares that now allow everyone to fly,” the company said.

In the same statement, Fernandes said the award reflected AirAsia’s commitment to growing tourism in the region.

“While other airlines are contracting, AirAsia is expanding, believing that it is vitally important for Asia to receive as much support as it can get for the sustenance of its economies, including through growth in tourism.

“We have championed tourism in Asia by offering flights that are truly accessible to everyone,” he said.

The awards were held at the 20th Annual TTG Travel Awards 2009 Ceremony and Gala Dinner in Bangkok yesterday. About 700 travel industry professionals attended the event.

Source : STAR
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New LCCT works to start soon

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), the country's biggest airport operator, hopes to start earthworks next month on the new permanent low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang, its chairman Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman said.

Aris said it was crucial that works begin next month for MAHB to complete the LCCT by the third quarter of 2011.

"We are sticking to our 2011 deadline," he told reporters after the graduation ceremony for 194 airport security staff at the Bunga Raya Complex in Sepang yesterday.

In March, MAHB said it would complete the new terminal and a new runway within two and a half years, without exceeding the estimated cost of RM2 billion.

The permanent LCCT will be located to the west of the main KLIA terminal building, roughly 1.5km in distance.

The new terminal building will be 150,000 sq m and hold up to 30 million passengers a year, with capacity for expansion of up to 45 million passengers.

MAHB is also planning substantial investments to beef up its retail shopping and services division to boost revenue.

In the financial year ended December 31 2008, its retail and food and beverage division posted RM304.9 million sales, or about a fifth of the group's revenue of RM1.51 billion.

Aris said MAHB will focus on renovations to the main terminal building of the airport to enhance the retail facilities located there.

"We realise we cannot rely on airport charges alone as these tend to remain stagnant or low due to the competitiveness of many airports around the world."

Source : Business Times Online
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