Air Asia to link five more Indian cities

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 11, 2010 12:40 hrs

Malaysia-based low-cost airline Air Asia is all set to fly to five more Indian cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai - this year, a company official said Thursday.

The airline is also awaiting clearances to start long haul flights to Delhi and Kolkata from Bangkok.

'We are waiting for the regulatory clearances to fly Kolkata-Bangkok and Delhi-Bangkok. Meanwhile, we will start flying to five more Indian cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai this year,' Kathleen Tan, regional head (Commercial) of Air Asia, told reporters here.

'We have opened the ticket bookings for the new Indian destinations,' she said.

Air Asia will thus be connecting nine Indian cities. The airline currently connects Kolkata, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), Trivandrum and Kochi to Kuala Lumpur.

Spencer Lee, marketing manager (India), said Air Asia will connect two Malaysian cities - Kuala Lumpur and Penang - with Chennai.

In respect of Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, it will fly only to Kuala Lumpur.

Tan said the airline had reduced cost by faster turnaround of aircrafts (25 minutes) in case of short haul flights and 60 minutes in case of long haul flights.

'We took airport officials in Trichy to Malaysia to train them on faster turnaround of planes. We are now able to fly out from Trichy within 25 minutes of our landing there,' she said.

According to her, the turnaround time in Mumbai airport is around 80 minutes.

'For us, aircraft turnaround time is more important than carrying cargo. The time saved in loading and unloading of cargo is utilised for short distance flying from Kuala Lumpur,' she told IANS after the media meeting.

The other reason for the airline's success is the optimum utilisation of its cabin crew by multi-tasking them.

'The cabin crew size is four in case of short haul flights and nine in respect of long haul, whereas in the case of other airlines it is six and 12 respectively. This saves a lot of fixed overhead,' she said.

Operating in India since November 2008, Tan said the airline enjoyed a load factor of around 80 percent.