Thursday, October 25, 2007

Budget flights to Singapore soon!

This is certainly one of the best news for travellers both in Malaysia and Singapore. Finally we can get a budget airline plying this lucrative routes from 4 Malaysian cities (Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching) to Singapore.

Here an excerpt from NST:

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia has been given the green light to operate two daily flights each from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Singapore, taking the country a step further towards becoming the region's premier hub for low-cost travel.

Sources said the cabinet agreed yesterday to open the routes to budget airlines from the two countries under a reciprocal arrangement, starting in December or January once the logistics are sorted out.The new routes will expand AirAsia's connectivity to more than 80 destinations across the continent, and provide additional connections for its sister airline AirAsia X, which is due to fly to Australia's Gold Coast on Nov 2, to Guangzhou, China at the end of the year, and to Melbourne and London next year.Prices for the Singapore flights are expected to start at RM9.90 for return trips.Contacted yesterday, AirAsia chief executive Datuk Tony Fernandes said: "I'm in Singapore.

I am not aware of the decision." Currently, the lucrative Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route is exclusively served by Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, which together fly 20 times a day between the two cities.In line with the Asean Open Sky Policy, scheduled to take off on Jan 1, 2009, both Malaysia and Singapore have, since last year, been in talks to liberalise their air space to further boost travel and tourism between the two countries.

AirAsia and Tiger Airways have expressed keen interest to operate the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route and want it liberalised sooner.Fernandes has been one of the most consistent proponents of an open skies policy between Malaysia and Singapore, saying it will help turn Malaysia into a regional low-cost carrier hub and channel some of the tourist traffic from Changi International Airport to KL International Airport in Sepang.The sources yesterday agreed that the cabinet's move was in line with the country's ambitions in tourism and the low-cost travel
sector.

However, discussions to expedite the open skies pact have been put on hold, due largely to concern that the move could interfere with MAS' business turnaround plan.MAS had opposed the move, saying it needs more time to execute its recovery and that Malaysia and Singapore should adhere to the original timeline for liberalisation.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy could not be reached to comment on the cabinet decision.However, it is understood that the cabinet had asked that talks with Singapore on matters surrounding the new development should be held immediately.Singapore had expressed hopes of a liberalisation of the Air Service Agreement with Malaysia to allow carriers from both nations, including budget airlines, to cover more routes than just Kuala Lumpur-Singapore.

Its Transport Ministry has said that apart from the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, its government was also keen to expand the sky pact to other major cities in Malaysia.The Singapore government believes that a more liberal air services agreement between Singapore and Malaysia would be mutually beneficial as it would enhance trade, investment and tourism flows between the two countries.

0 Hopper's Notes: