Tuesday December 2, 2008
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: From yesterday, air travellers on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route can choose 14 daily flights from low-cost carriers and more than 15 from full-service carriers.
This is a huge jump in choices from a year ago, which saw only Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines plying the route.
In February, low-cost carriers had begun launching limited flights.
But from Dec 1, all airlines in Malaysia and Singapore can launch flights between the two capital cities.
The change has come a month ahead of the liberalisation of the Asean Open Skies for capital cities.
Both AirAsia and Tiger Airways, which are flying seven and three to four flights respectively on the route, are eager to increase the frequencies.
AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes told StarBiz yesterday that he wanted to add an additional flight by next month when the airline took delivery of more aircraft.
“My target is to have 12 daily flights for stage one. Eventually we would like to have 24 flights daily or every half-hourly flight,’’ he said.
The response had been “fantastic’’ for the KL-Singapore route even though it was just day one of the sector’s full liberalisation, he said.
The budget airline sees its load factor averaging 75% on the route.
Tiger Airways chief executive Tony Davis told StarBiz from Singapore that the carrier had seen huge demand for its flights and would increase its frequency to five daily flights from three or four now on weekdays.
“Our loads are very good and we see strong consumer demand. We just saw our 3.30pm flight took off from Singapore to KL and there were only two empty seats out of the 180 seats in the aircraft,’’ Davis said.
National carrier MAS commercial director Datuk Abdul Rashid Khan, believes the Singapore-KL route has always been a springboard for connecting flights from KL International Airport (KLIA) to its global destinations such as outbound traffic from Singapore and likewise, for the return via KLIA.
“We will continue to leverage on (our) partnerships to remain competitive as well as profitable on this route,’’ he said in an e-mail response.
An SIA spokesman, in an e-mail reply said the opening of the sector was good for consumers and the airlines. Competition would force airlines to be more cost effective and innovative in the product and service offerings, he added.
“We offer competitive fares. The Singapore-KL route will now function like most other markets in the region. There will be price competition and fares will vary in line with demand,’’ the spokesman said.
MAS and AirAsia mount seven daily flights each on the route, SIA and SilkAir, four flights each, Tiger, three or four flights and JetStar, three.
Malaysia’s Firefly is still hoping to ply the route from Subang and is still awaiting the Government’s response, according to managing director Eddy Leong.