Low-cost carrier AirAsia has urged Malaysia to approve its application to fly to Singapore, arguing the government had to reduce protection for Malaysia Airlines.
AirAsia’s Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said Malaysia had to improve its connectivity by allowing in more airlines, which would in turn supplement the budget carrier’s network.
Malaysian-based AirAsia announced last month it had made a bid to ply the lucrative Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route, and that it expected to commence flights by early 2007.
“We hope the KL to Singapore route is open quickly so we can get a share of their hub traffic,” Fernandes told AFP.
“There should be no a reason for it it not to be open except for the protection of Malaysia Airlines,” he said Sunday.
The Malaysian government has said it is studying whether to allow AirAsia and Singapore-based Tiger Airways to operate the hour-long route currently monopolised by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Singapore Airlines.
Fernandes said Malaysia Airlines was facing increasing challenges from airlines entering the country, and called on the government to allow fair competition for routes.
“More and more Arab airlines are being allowed into Malaysia and they have to compete with those airlines,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be holding anyone back for the benefit of one party,” he added.
The chief executive said AirAsia had no news yet of a decision from the Malaysian government, but indicated protection for Malaysia Airlines could be a sticking point.
“We are just waiting for the Malaysian government response,” he said. “The only reason not to give a decision would be to protect MAS.”
AirAsia was launched as a budget carrier in December 2001 with just two aircraft. It now offers more than 100 domestic and international flights to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.