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Air Asia's global aspirations

Interview with Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial and no. 2 in Air Asia.

Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial and de facto no. 2 in Air Asia / Fot. Marek LenarcikMarek Lenarcik: Air Asia operates as a so called Low-cost Airline. What does it really mean? Are you like a European Ryanair or an American Jetblue?
Kathleen Tan: Ryanair and Jetblue have very different business models. It’s still a point to point airline. We take you from one destination to another. We do not need to have fixed time schedules like the legacy airlines. Our flight times can be different every day. We are like any other low-cost airline. Book on-line, well in advance for the lowest fares. The area where we are unique is branding. We position ourselves as an airline for smart people - save on the airfare and spent the saved money on a nice five stars hotel, shopping or entertainment on your holidays. If you book a hotel via our website together with a flight you can get a deal - buy one night, get one night free. We do package holidays in Thailand, Vietnam and soon on the Middle East. We try to build a lifestyle airline, we try to build a huge community around our website.

You applied a low-cost business model to long haul flights. No one has ever done it before. How is it going so far?
- So far it has been very good. Our flights from London to Kuala Lumpur are full in 95% and sometimes it’s very hard to get a seat. We have two classes of seats on board, but the service is the same so we can keep our fares down. Our model is you pay for what you use. If you don’t want these extra frills you don’t have to pay. I think that the acceptance of the low-cost model in Asia is very high. Unlike Ryanair we don’t do free seatings, because a lot of Asians requested assigned seatings. We have 25-minutes turn-around and a high aircraft utilization which keeps our service frequent.

You applied a low-cost business model to long haul flights. No one has ever done it before. How is it going so far?
- So far it has been very good. Our flights from London to Kuala Lumpur are full in 95% and sometimes it’s very hard to get a seat. We have two classes of seats on board, but the service is the same so we can keep our fares down. Our model is you pay for what you use. If you don’t want these extra frills you don’t have to pay. I think that the acceptance of the low-cost model in Asia is very high. Unlike Ryanair we don’t do free seatings, because a lot of Asians requested assigned seatings. We have 25-minutes turn-around and a high aircraft utilization which keeps our service frequent.

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