KOLKATA: AirAsia Bhd is gearing up for network expansion in India with more destinations after achieving a wide coverage in China.
The company currently has about 200 flights a week to seven cities in China.
AirAsia regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan, said the budget carrier had been looking at the Indian market for a long time and that it took a while to go there due to a lot of documentation issues.
“There is a lot of demand for flights between India and Kuala Lumpur. The expansion of the Indian routes will help open up the tourism industry in both countries and stimulate the labour market as well,” she told reporters in Kolkata last Friday at an event to commemorate the inaugural KL-Kolkata flight.
Present at the event were Consul of Malaysia to India Sanjay Budhia, Tourism Minister of West Bengal Manabendra Mukherjee and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board deputy director for international marketing division covering South Asia, West Asia and Africa, Salman Ahmad.
Tan said the airline was looking to serve Bangalore and Hyderabad in India from KL next year and its associate AirAsia X would look to serve Mumbai and New Delhi.
“We have a hub in Bangkok within our network and we are planning to do the Bangkok-Kolkata, Phuket-Kolkata as well as Bangkok-Mumbai and Bangkok-Delhi routes,” she said.
Following the start of service to Trichy last year, AirAsia launched three new routes from KL to Kolkata, Kochi and Trivandrum which opened for ticket sales on Oct 15, 2009.
Kolkata is recognised as one of four major metropolises in India along with New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.
The city in West Bengal is home to renowned personalities like Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher Ramakrishna and film director Satyajit Ray.
Kolkata is a haven for food lovers and is well connected to many Indian cities as a majority of domestic airlines have direct services to and from Kolkata.
Tan said Kolkata was one of the busiest cities in India and there was demand for the Kolkata-KL route as it had not been served from KL directly in the last few years.
“We have sold over 30,000 seats as of today (Friday) for the new route. It is a significant achievement for this market,” she said, adding that the airline targeted various segments for this route, including those travelling for business, holiday or religious purposes.
AirAsia is confident the route will provide a boost for tourism and stimulate the economies of India and Malaysia.
Furthermore, the route provides a direct connection between West Bengal and Malaysia via the KL hub, which in itself is a gateway to many destinations across Asia, the UK and the Middle East.
“With Kolkata added to our extensive network, AirAsia is unlocking the potential of international air travel from KL to eastern India and its surrounding areas. We are thrilled to be serving Kolkata direct, a huge market that no other airline is serving direct,” Tan said.
For all the flights to India, AirAsia uhses the Airbus A320.
Copied at 23 November 2009