Sunday, March 13, 2011


If Air Asia can do it, Air Asia X can do better to bring in the tourist arrivals into Malaysia.

However, four months and four updates on the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) later, long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X has yet to receive rights to lucrative routes such as Sydney and Beijing.

This is despite Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu) outlining such routes as immediate action routes at the launch of the ETP roadmap in October 2010.

"Specifically, the Ministry of Transport will identify immediate action steps to enhance connectivity for Malaysia to Sydney and Osaka as well as other priority medium-haul cities namely Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Delhi, Melbourne, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei that have already been given approval by the ministry for operations by both MAS and AirAsia X," the manual on the ETP said.

According to National Economic Council (NEC) member Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek last week however, the paper on the initiative has yet to reach the consideration of the council.

The NEC is a high-level 12 member committee chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

When asked then on what the government qualified as immediate action, he said the government needed to take into consideration government-to-government air rights arrangements as well as availability of the rights before it could come to a decision.

Chua went on to say that he was sure the government will decide on it soon.

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the carrier's RM1.86 billion investment in three aircraft is proof of its belief that the government will make good on its promise.

"I think in a business like this, you can't wait until you have all the risks eliminated, you can't have all the routes on paper, the airports completely built and oil prices are nice, because by then everyone else would have jumped ahead of you.

"So, you do have to take calculated risks because (when it comes to) aircraft orders, slots are constrained, so if you don't grab the manufacturer's slots now, then we are going to be behind and competing countries will grab these slots. What gives us the confidence to take these risks is the ETP," Azran said after attending the fourth ETP update.

Meanwhile, on further aircraft investments, he said it will only be done once the airline strengthens its balance sheet.

Azran added that it may only happen after an initial public offering.

So what is the real problem??

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