AirAsia to start flights to 5 more Indian cities from April 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010, 8:30 by Jose Philip

AirAsia flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai soon

AirAsia, the budget airline based in Malaysia, has announced that it will start flights to 5 more cities in India from April 2010 as a part of its plan for expansion in the region.

The cities that AirAsia, the biggest low-cost carrier in South-east Asia, plans to fly from April 2010 are New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai.

AirAsia will start flying from Penang, the city in northern Malaysia, to Chennai from April 28, 2010; and from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to Mumbai from May 6, 2010; to Chennai from May 17, 2010; to Bangalore from May 20, 2010; to Hyderabad from July 20, 2010; and to New Delhi from August 4, 2010.

All the 6 new routes, except the Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai route, will be operated daily. The Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai flights will be operated 4 times a week.

From its base in Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia already operates services to Kolkata, Trichy, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in India.

Tony Fernandes, the founder and CEO of AirAsia, said the airline is aiming at carrying 2 million passengers a year once it launches the new flights to the 5 Indian cities.

AirAsia’s hub in Kuala Lumpur, Tony Fernandes added, was being made a gateway between India and the 10-nation Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He appealed to the government of Malaysia to have “flexibility,” referring to the government’s tightening of the visa rules in its effort to check illegal migration, especially from the city of Chennai in southern India.

AirAsia, which pioneered low-cost air travel in Asia, has, in fact, benefited from the global economic depression as passengers are looking for bargain fares. It earned a net profit of 130 million ringgit (US $38 million) in the quarter ended September 2009.

According to Ong Tee Keat, the Transport Minister of Malaysia, the new routes to India will boost tourism to Malaysia, which is home to ethnic Indian and Chinese people.

Tony Fernandes said that AirAsia, which was launched in December 2001 with only 2 aircraft, is at present the fourth biggest airline in the region.