28/02/2024 10:49 AM

From S. Kisho Kumari

CHENNAI, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- AirAsia is actively pursuing opportunities to explore and obtain bilateral rights to fly into Tier 2 as well as Tier 3 cities in India in an effort to grow its network across the country.

AirAsia chief of airport and customer experience Kesavan Sivanandam said that focus to widen the network has been crucial for the low-cost airline as primary cities in the country have reached the peak of expansion. 

“We need more bilateral rights for Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities right now. Currently, there are no bilateral rights for cities like Madurai and Coimbatore, so travellers will need to go through Chennai or Tiruchirappalli to explore the cities (Madurai and Coimbatore).

“The effort to obtain bilateral rights needs persistent and continuous engagement as well as discussions,” he said during an AirAsia media roundtable discussion held in Chennai. 

Nevertheless, he said, the government of India has been more than helpful on the matter.

“We are hopeful of getting bilateral rights for more cities in India as soon as possible,” he said. 

The Indian government has classified cities in the country into four major tiers, namely Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities, whereby the classifications are based on the infrastructure development, economic growth, population size and the quality of life.

Kesavan also said that AirAsia is looking into expanding its network to 20 cities in India by end of this year as demand for travels between Malaysia and India has seen a spike following the government's announcement of visa-free entry for Indian citizens visiting Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia director of South India and Sri Lanka, Razaidi Abd Rahim, said Malaysia expects to see up to one million people travelling from India to Malaysia this year, lifted by the visa-free entry and ongoing promotional events in India.

Elaborating further on AirAsia’s expansion plan in India, Kesavan said the airline also plans to open up new routes to India from the Langkawi International Airport and Penang International Airport soon in a move to give travellers more options to visit cities, both in Malaysia and India. 

“AirAsia’s robust network of destinations has enabled more than five million passengers to fly between India and Malaysia in the last six years alone, and 18 per cent of the revenue is contributed through Malaysia - India travels,” he said. 

Currently, AirAsia flies directly from Kuala Lumpur to 14 cities in India, including Trivandrum, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Kochi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Jaipur, New Delhi, and Amritsar.


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