Saturday, May 10, 2008

Malaysia woos Arab tourists with eco-tourism

Malaysia is putting up a strong presence at the four-day Arabian Travel Mart 2008 to woo Arab tourists to the country.
A total of 135 participants from 86 organisations are taking part in the travel mart which started on Tuesday and ends on Friday to sell packages that showcase the various attractions on the Malaysian tourism calendar.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohamad Taiyab told a media conference yesterday at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai that Malaysia was currently emphasising eco-tourism.

The events include the Colours of Malaysia, the Mega Sale and the Rainforest World Music Festival, Tourism Malaysia said.

Visitors will also be able to network with Malaysian organisations for potential business opportunities at the Tourism Malaysia booth at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Last year, 38,170 visitors from the United Arab Emirates visited Malaysia while 5,276 came during the first quarter of this year.

Malaysia Airlines now operates seven daily flights between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur while Oman Air is expected to fly five times weekly beginning July, the Arabian summer holiday season.

Air Arabia will also be promoting Malaysia with daily services from Sharjah, UAE to Kuala Lumpur. It will be complemented by Air Yeti which will operate services between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur.

Source : NST
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

AirAsia makes it a battle in the skies with its own offer

AirAsia has countered Malaysia Airline’s Zero Fare campaign claiming that their cheapest air ticket still costs less than the national carrier’s latest product that was launched yesterday.

The budget carrier’s chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes announced that his airline would come out with two new initiatives. They are:

> AirAsia will pay the difference to any of his passengers if they can find any MAS airfare that is lower than the cheapest offered by AirAsia.

> A sub-Zero Fare campaign.

“Just print out the confirmed booking from MAS and I will pay the difference. As for the sub-Zero Fare, which will be launched in the next few days, it will be cheaper than zero,” said Fernandes in an interview.

Reacting to the MAS campaign which was launched by its managing director Datuk Seri Idris Jala yesterday, Fernandes said he was “very flattered” by the full-service carrier’s latest initiative because it was a copy of what AirAsia had been doing.

“This is the10th time that MAS has copied us. I guess imitation is the best form of flattery,” he added.

MAS announced that it has launched a new product that it called Zero Fare whereby domestic travellers need only pay the airport tax and surcharges. Jala also announced that the airline had set aside one million tickets for the travel period between June 10 and Dec 14.

For the domestic offer, the total charge for travel between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak is RM122.40. For domestic travel without crossing the South China Sea, the charge will be RM81.45.

The tickets can only be purchased on-line. MAS is expected to expand this offer to Asean routes soon.

The Star front-paged this report yesterday and by mid-day the MAS website ( was reporting heavy traffic.

Fernandes also produced a list of prices to compare the fares offered by AirAsia against MAS' to prove that his was cheaper.

He said that he was sure that consumers would know which airline is making a better offer especially since his AirAsia gives better service.

“We have newer aircraft, better and hot food – although passengers have to buy them on board – better seats which are more spacious and we definitely have better crew.

“We have more frequency to local destinations.

“We have more point-to-point routes; for example one can fly directly from Penang to Kota Kinabalu or Johor Baru to Miri without having to transit at another airport,” said the AirAsia boss.

He also revealed that his airline had started selling hot roti canai on board his planes last month and would introduce chicken rice and satay soon.

Source : STAR
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MAS profits via new scheme

y offering limited zero-fare seats for domestic flights, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is actually making money for seats that would have otherwise been unsold.

MAS managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said that on average, domestic MAS flights were only 70% full.

“So the remaining 30% we would not have been sold anyway. By offering zero-fare for these seats, it’s actually giving us some incremental revenue through the YSQ charges (fuel surcharge, administrative fee and airport tax).

“It’s profitable in the sense that rather than letting them go empty, we have some revenue for it. But if we were to sell the entire plane seats at that rate, then of course we rugi (suffer losses),” he told the press after launching the zero fare for domestic destinations here yesterday.

It was reported yesterday that such tickets could only be obtained through the MAS website and passengers had to make bookings at least a month before the travel period.

For domestic offer, the total charge for travel between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak is RM122.40.

For domestic travel without crossing the South China Sea, the charge will be RM81.45.

He added that this would only be implemented on lean flights and not for peak-period flights.

“It’s part of managing the inventory. If you give an open period, it’s not the best practice for managing it.

“We’re starting with zero fare in controlled seats, but if there is over-subscription, then we will put in a nominal fare. We will take stock of this, and then examine it on a flight-by-flight basis, then we will open the inventory for subsequent bookings in future.”

He said the cost for running their latest product was “very negligible”, as it only involved serving food, drinks and fuel cost for carrying additional passengers.

MAS has 1.3 million zero-fare seats up for grabs from now until the end of the year, but the booking period is only until May 19.

Asked if MAS would honour the bookings made even if fuel prices shot up, Jala replied: “Whatever we sell the passengers, we’ll honour.”

Asked if this was a measure taken to compete with low-cost carrier, AirAsia, he said:

“AirAsia has always said that they have created new demands from low fares and I entirely agree with them.

“When we come out to do this, we are also creating new demand.”

Plans to extend such fares for the Asean routes will be announced later this month, but Jala said there was currently no need to include long-haul flights as “loads to Australia, New Zealand and Europe were very good”.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia boss: Let us compete against MAS

AirAsia has hit out at Malaysia Airlines for competing directly with its business model but at the same time not allowing the budget carrier to compete against the national airline.

AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said that while he welcomes competition, he urged that his company be allowed to compete against MAS.

“The first thing they should do is to allow us to fly more flights to Singapore instead of asking the Government not to allow us to do so. They should also allow us to stage more flights from different points in Malaysia to Singapore,” said Fernandes.

He was responding to a statement by MAS managing director Datuk Seri Idris Jala who said the national carrier was creating new demand from low fares, just like AirAsia.

He said MAS should work together with AirAsia instead of competing and accused the full service airline of “surrendering” to Singapore Airlines (SIA).

“MAS and AirAsia will go to war and the only beneficiary will be SIA,” said Fernandes.

“AirAsia and AirAsia X are doing more to bring in foreign tourists than MAS. Although we have only a flight a day to Australia (Gold Coast), we are spending A$350,000 in advertising compared to SIA’s A$1.2mil (RM3.6mil). I know MAS is spending a lot less.

“Our two airlines are dedicated to turn KLIA into a major Asian hub again. MAS should join us in this mission,” he added.

Source : STAR
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Courses for cabbies to guide tourists

As frontliners in the tourism industry, taxi drivers must increase their knowledge on tourism products apart from learning English for their jobs.

Pahang Tourism Action Council general manager Idrus Yahya said it would be disappointing for foreign tourists to take rides around town without learning much about the destinations if taxi drivers don't know about the localities.

“When we visit other countries, we are glad when taxi drivers are helpful enough to show us interesting places and provide historical information,” Idrus said after opening a one-day course on tourism products for 85 taxi drivers from Kuantan, Temerloh and Bera districts here on Friday.

Idrus said the council conducted the courses in stages.

Soon, the council would hold similar courses for taxi drivers in Bentong, Raub, Lipis and Cameron Highlands, he added.

Idrus said the state had allocated and spent funds for the tourism sector to improve, upgrade and maintain their products.

He said the programmes were progressively implemented to create a better image for the products and increase number of visitors to the state.

Idrus said that RM64mil had been allocated for upgrading and maintaining 73 tourism projects in the state.

This includes RM4mil for the construction of parking lots in Cameron Highlands, RM20mil for upgrading and maintaining Bukit Fraser in Raub, RM5.7mil for Tasik Cini conservation work and maintenance of its research centre and RM2.6mil to improve homestay programmes.

Idrus said that Pahang would organise an eco-challenge and 4X4 expedition from Tasik Bera (in Bera district) to Tasik Cini (in Pekan district) in August to draw interest in the environment among tourists and boost Tasik Bera as a wetland conservation area.

Source : STAR
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Floral parade in Putrajaya

A floral parade in Putrajaya will be the highlight of the four-month long Flora Fest 2008 themed Colours of Harmony.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said at least 15 floats would be participating in the parade on July 26. The floats, which must use at least 70% of fresh flowers, would then be displayed in Putrajaya until July 28.

Flora Fest 2008, which started on March 1, is divided into seven segments including photography competition and exhibition, flora workshop, Florathon, design arrangement and decoration competitions, floral parade and float showcase and bazaar.

“Malaysia has almost 8,000 species of flowers and its flora and fauna should be given as much publicity as possible.

Flower power: Azalina Othman checking out the floral display at her meeting room. Looking on is the Ministry's secretary-general Datuk Dr Victor Wee.

“Many of our indigenous flowers have yet to gain international recognition because they have not been given enough publicity and not because they are inferior in terms of beauty and colour,” she said at a press conference on Flora Fest here yesterday.

Bigger plans are also in store for next year, said Azalina who intends to make it a Flora and Forest Fest in 2009 to get locals and tourists to further appreciate nature.

“The Fest goes beyond parades. We are looking at incorporating nature walks and other eco-tourism activities for next year.

We also want it to be promoted in more destinations in the country,” she added.

Source : STAR
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Bigger and better Johor airport

THE Sultan Ismail International Airport in Johor is embarking on an expansion plan in anticipation of higher air traffic to the state in the coming years. This is expected to be completed around mid- to end-2009.

The airport's operator, Senai Airport Terminal Services, intends to extend the length of its runway from the existing 3.354km to 3.8km to accommodate bigger aircraft.

Also on the drawing board is a new taxiway. This will improve the turnaround time for aircraft landings and take-offs.

At the same time, runway lights and instruments for the landing system will be upgraded.

The airport operator said it would also increase the amount of retail space to bring in a wider variety of retail, f&b and lifestyle shops on the ground floor of the passenger terminal building.

Source : TTG
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Monday, May 05, 2008

MAS to launch zero fare tickets for domestic destinations today

Travel to any domestic destination for zero fare on Malaysia Airlines – that's the new product to be launched today.

These tickets can only be obtained through the MAS website However, passengers must make bookings within the next 14 days and pay the airport tax and surcharges.

MAS managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the airline has set aside one million tickets for this offer, which is valid for travel between June 10 and Dec 14.

New promotion: MAS stewardesses promoting the airline’s ‘Everday Low Fares’ campaign.

It is understood that MAS will soon announce its campaign for its Asean routes.

“It could be zero fares or minimum charges but they will be lower than those offered by our competitors at present,” he said.

For the domestic offer, the total charge for travel between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak is RM122.40.

For domestic travel without crossing the South China Sea, the charge will be RM81.45.

»What we are offering gives everyone a win-win situation« DATUK SERI IDRIS JALA

Previously, the cheapest one-way fare between KL International Airport and Kota Kinabalu – the furthest possible domestic route – cost RM529. A normal ticket for a trip from KLIA to Penang costs RM229 one-way.

MAS' subsidiary Firefly is also offering zero fares for its destinations on its turboprop aircraft.

Idris said MAS had set aside 30% of each flight for “these special Everyday Low Fares” offer.

However, he said that tickets purchased were not refundable and the travel dates could not be changed.

“What we are offering gives everyone a win-win situation. It helps us to meet our business objectives and it provides our customers with an excellent deal.

“You get to enjoy the best of both worlds – really low prices plus our five-star services – our food and beverages, entertainment, luggage allowances and other benefits that come with travelling with MAS,” Idris said.

The zero fare product is part of a business transformation plan that Idris launched last year after MAS managed to record its best-ever profit of RM851.42mil, compared with losses of RM136.43mil in 2006.

Source : STAR
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