Article first published as Air Asia: Alliance in the Blue Skies on Blogcritics.
“Now everyone can fly,” the byline of Air Asia, kept haunting me all through. To me, a lover of literature, it brought to mind Shakespeare’s words, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”
Air Asia is a low-cost airline, very practical and without frills. It provides what it spells out. To pick a seat you have to pay. To carry luggage weighing more than seven kilograms you have to pay. For a glass of water you have to pay. For your meals you have to pay. They do not pamper you with drinks, with sumptuous meals, with dark chocolates, with soft pillows, with musical gadgets. Neither do they have business class or executive class; everything is basically economy.
They do not take you in a bus to board the aircraft. All you have to do is walk to the plane. Sometimes it can be more than a kilometre. They extend a walking track to you to make you fit for the long flight where you have to sit tight for long hours. If it rains they give you an umbrella. So much so fine.
Inside, the leg room is adequate. The cleanliness is good. The service is excellent. They keep time. Departure might be delayed a few minutes but any delay is compensated for during the flight.
They land you on time. They attach no jet bridge – again you have to walk a kilometre or so to the terminal. Well, your sagging muscles get toned up, helping you to proceed briskly to the immigration check if you are on an international flight.
Browsing through their fares we find them most competitive. It is time that helps you. If you book a flight say eleven months ahead of time, you save enormously. They go very cheap. The price of tickets for domestic flights is cheaper than bus fares. It costs RM 29 to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang while the bus fare is RM 50. My jaw dropped when I saw that the cost of one trip to Melbourne from Kuala Lumpur was Rm 158 per person. Of course there were the tax and fuel charges. But the basic fare was only RM 158. It was so alluring and very attractive. Working up the tax and fuel price the ticket went up by another RM 100. Even then it was cheap, dead cheap. Air Asia gives you training in planning too. Here the early planners snatch the best deal.
An airport is dedicated to Air Asia in Kuala Lumpur. It is located some ten kilometers from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and is rightly called the Low Cost Carrier Terminus (LCCT). The airport is full of Air Asia flights flashing the tag “Now everyone can fly.” The airline’s service reveals an enlightening philosophy. It takes you to places as near as Singapore as well as to places as far as London for fares unbelievable, for comforts reasonable.
Air Asia has proved its vitality. Flying is no longer a fascination. It is an experience thrown open to all irrespective of wealth. Air Asia honcho Tony Fernandez has wrought wonders. He acquired this money-losing airline for RM 1 and transformed it into the most successful low-cost carrier in less than five years.
Tony, generally seen sporting a red cap, sees the sky from the land and the land from the sky as all do but with a different perspective.
It looks as though the sky has descended halfway and the land has risen up halfway to notch up an alliance midway in the blue skies.
Yes. What Shakespeare might have written in late 16th century has come true now with planes replacing horses: “if wishes were planes, beggars could fly.” Wishes can be realized for a pittance.