AirAsia branding losing ground

FIRST, it was AirAsia X that announced it would be suspending flights between its Malaysian base in Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai and New Delhi in India. Mumbai went off-line on Jan 31 while frequencies to New Delhi would reduce gradually before end-date Mar 22. The long-haul budget arm of AirAsia will also cease operations to London and Paris.

Now, Thai AirAsia – a joint venture between AirAsia and Thai Airways International – has announced similar plans to suspend its daily flights between Bangkok and New Delhi, the frequency to be reduced to four times weekly from Feb 14.

Is this a problem with India or a problem with the AirAsia brand?

AirAsia X cited visa restrictions imposed by the Indian authorities as a main reason. One wonders if Thai AirAsia faces the same problem. That might have been contributory, as it is with the issue of the volatile fuel price; ultimately it is about not just cost efficiencies (that which as recognized by AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani) but also the competition which is not necessarily confined to the budget cohort.

India is well-served by both budget and full-service airlines. It would seem that the AirAsia companies may not have been quite successful in penetrating the Indian market to the same measure as the parent company has done elsewhere in the region. The problem may not belong to AirAsia X or Thai AirAsia alone, but the AirAsia brand.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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