AirAsia squares-off with Cebu Pacific.

Introduces Jakarta service in September

Jakarta - AirAsia subsidiary Indonesia AirAsia will commence daily flights between Jakarta and Manila in September as it compete head on for the first time with Asia-Pacific's third biggest budget carrier Cebu Pacific.

AirAsia had been finding difficulty in securing landing right between Manila and Cebu to points in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur which tied its flight in Manila-Clark, a budget airport north of the capital, while there are no restrictions from Bangkok and Jakarta.

In a press conference Bapak Dharmadi, Indonesia AirAsia CEO said that the airline is almost ready to square off with the Philippines budget carrier on Jakarta-Manila route.

It will also expand existing flights from Jakarta-Singapore and Denpasar-Singapore routes from twice to four times daily while its Kuala Lumpur flights would be increased from 2 to 3 flights per day, according to Dharmadi. The airline is also set to fly Denpasar-Perth, in Australia starting July, and Saigon, Vietnam beginning September.

"We are just finalizing some things but we are ready to begin our Manila service in September," said Dharmadi as they are hoping to capture a substantial share of the volume of budget passengers traveling back and forth between Jakarta and Manila, a route currently dominated by Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific. The Philippines is just one of the new destinations Indonesia AirAsia is adding in an effort to grow its regional services.

Currently, 80 percent of Indonesia AirAsia flights are domestic while the other 20 percent are regional. The company is aiming to change this ratio to 75 against 25 percent, Dharmadi said.

“We have seen short-haul travel within the Asian region growing between five and ten percent over the last two years. This is partly been caused by a decline in long-haul travel to destinations outside the region,” Dharmadi stressed.

As part of its strategy to cater for the growing short-haul travel market, the company is aiming to have a fleet of 45 aircraft, all Airbus, within the next five years.

Earlier, the airline had announced its plans to open at least 10 international routes to Indonesia this year to help reach its target to carry 3.5 million passengers from Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

AirAsia is the largest low cost carrier in Asia Pacific with bases at Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It is currently negotiating a deal with a small airline in the Philippines to establish its local subsidiary.

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