| Hakim Hayat in Bangkok |
BANGKOK – AirAsia’s Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes recently said that the aviation authorities in Brunei Darussalam should consider “opening up” further routes for the low-cost carrier in order to have a healthy tourism industry that would also create more jobs for locals.
Following the launch of AirAsia’s latest product, AirAsia Asean Pass, poised to boost travel within countries in the Asean region, Tony said he believed that Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines will be the biggest beneficiaries of the pass because many have yet to discover what these two destinations have to offer.
AirAsia has started to open up more routes in the Philippines, adding the island of Borracay to its list.
With the launch of the pass, Tony said, “They would say ‘Let’s have a look at Brunei because it’s off the normal track’. These people might just want to try it. And if people enjoy what they see, they will definitely write and talk about it.”
Tony also highlighted that many Bruneians use AirAsia for their travels in the region because of its reasonable fares. The fares could be much lower if there was a bit more competition, which Brunei currently lacks, he added.
Asked about the possibility of opening up more routes for AirAsia to fly in or out of Brunei Darussalam, Tony said the company has made the necessary applications to authorities here. “We applied to fly from Jakarta, we would like to fly from Manila and Thailand to Brunei.”
However, these applications have not been sanctioned by the Brunei authorities, he said.
“Brunei needs to open up. This way, it will create more jobs. AirAsia is different from its competitors because it serves a different product to a different market segment.”
Currently, AirAsia in Brunei flies eight times weekly from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuala Lumpur. Two other airlines, including national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RB), also operate the same route.