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AirAsia plans to dominate Asia Region

Jan 29 (Tue ), 2013

AirAsia Berhad has finalised its strategic 5-year review, as it sets a course to push its dominance in the Asian region.   Group CEO Tan Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes said, “In 10 years, AirAsia Group grew from a 2-aircraft fleet to now the largest LCC in Asia with 118 aircraft and AirAsia is one of the most profitable airlines in Asia. Malaysia has been the launch pad for AirAsia in terms of brand and has stamped its footprint in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan.”   He added “Despite being the dominant carrier in terms of market share and profitability in Malaysia, we have to ensure we maintain the discipline in maximizing our revenues, capital, human resource, increasing passengers carried as well as keeping cost down. As Malaysia now becomes a cash machine, the management turns it focus to its other core markets in Thailand and Indonesia where we foresee these entities generating similar profits to Malaysia in the future. We have also kept to our promise by delivering our first listing in Thailand and soon Indonesia this year as this both companies becomes financially dependent on their own balance sheet.”   “The other focus is to develop our new entities in Philippines and Japan whereby in terms of LCC penetration, it is still at its infancy and there is utmost growth potential. We have put in a strong management team who shares our vision and strategy which will enable them to achieve similar dominance like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” he said.   In terms of new ventures, AirAsia is not shy from exploring new opportunities in new countries. Based on its strategic review, the management believes that Singapore is best served as a virtual hub as most of the routes served are from established hubs in the AirAsia network and the company believes there is an excess of capacity already out of Singapore. Routes less than three hours allow better revenue returns due to more sectors flown and AirAsia remains focused on that strategy hence the termination of longer routes like Kuala Lumpur to Colombo recently. Routes originating out of Singapore to larger population countries like China and India tend to be more than 5 hours hence AirAsia’s decision not to proceed with any venture there in the foreseeable future. Whilst other ASEAN and Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar and Korea seem attractive, the management of AirAsia has confirmed it will focus on the group’s existing operations that offer bigger domestic alternatives, with larger populations.   Tony also said, “In terms of non-ASEAN countries, India is an exciting market and I have been overwhelmed with the developments of the country recently in terms of promoting air travel. We will continue to explore opportunities there but I believe this market offers the most growth potential in terms of travel.”   AirAsia has placed an order of 475 aircraft and 114 have been delivered. 87% of the aircraft is on balance sheet which the highest owned ratio for any airline in Asia. Despite high ownership ratio, AirAsia balance remain solid with a net gearing of 1.03 times and a cash balance of just over RM2 billion.   Tony further added, “The ASEAN including China and India backyard has over 3.2 billion population which is 8 times bigger than Europe. We are in an exciting market to be in to build our brand as penetration of low cost carrier is very low. We see the potential of these markets hence why I am confident our huge aircraft orders will easily meet our capacity needs in the future. Larger passenger demand from these markets will translate to not just passenger revenues but also ancillary revenues. We are optimistic on our ancillary offerings and our new initiatives to be launched soon and will push up current ancillary passenger spent of RM41.”   “We keep focused and disciplined in terms of cost and our business model which is imbedded in the mindset of our organisation. We have the lowest cost base compared to other airlines in the world and it would be hard for others to replicate that even new competitors. We will announce our full year results in February and fourth quarter was very strong in terms of performance. I believe 2013 will be stronger in terms of our load factors and yields because we have the ability in terms scale and cost to buffer any competitive pressures. I am very excited for what we have strategically planned for the next 5 years for AirAsia Group and will continue to beat the odds every year,” Tony concluded.

Kirimaya Launches Ballooning Adventure Promotion

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

Kirimaya Launches Ballooning Adventure Promotion   Set in 800 acres of lush greenery bordering a UNESCO world heritage rainforest and majestic mountains, is Kirimaya – a 64-room resort that combines natural beauty with the chic elegance of contemporary living.   Khao Yai is just a two hour drive north east of Bangkok, and yet enjoys invigorating fresh cool, crisp mountain air all year round.   This magical setting is perfect for an early morning hot air balloon flight – floating above the beautiful scenic area dotted with wineries.    Tea, Coffee and juices will be served prior to the fight and on landing, guests will be able to enjoy a champagne breakfast complete with a live jazz band. Each couple will also be presented with a certificate souvenir of their balloon flight from the pilot.   The Kirimaya Ballooning Adventure is available from 15 January to 28 February 2013 and is priced at THB 15,500 nett per person (US$ 517 nett per person).   Package rates inclusive of accommodation, breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi are also available starting from THB 26,500 nett for Plantation View (US$ 833 nett) per night.   Kirimaya offers a choice of accommodation including four Tented Villas (180 square meters) with indoor private spa pool and outdoor sundeck; as well as a variety of rooms and suites with private terraces, spacious finely appointed interiors and majestic views of the Khao Yai National Park mountain range.   Pool Villas are available at neighboring Muthi Maya.

Bangkok Airways to Expand Services

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

Bangkok Airways to Expand Services   Bangkok Airways is expanding its route network. The new flights includes Bangkok-Krabi (twice daily starting 31 March) and Bangkok-Mandalay (4 weekly flights starting 16 September). Both destinations are already open for booking.   Additional services will be in place for Bangkok-Trat (3 daily flight) and Bangkok-Male (5 weekly flights starting 31 March).   Moreover, all flights served between Bangkok-Phnom Penh will now be operated by Airbus A319 and additional frequencies will be added to flights between Samui-Phuket during summer.   The airline recently launched a direct service from Bangkok to Vientiane – Laos, and an additional service between Hong Kong – Koh Samui. Flights to Koh Samui, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang will be seasonally adjusted. All recently introduced flights and services to other destinations will be maintained as during this timetable period.   Currently, Bangkok Airways serves eight domestic routes: Chiang Mai, Lampang, Sukhothai, Pattaya (U-Tapao), Trat, Phuket, Samui and Krabi and eleven international routes: Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Yangon, Maldives, Dhaka and Mumbai.

JAL to Serve Miyazaki Beef in International First Class

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

 JAL to Serve Miyazaki Beef in International First Class   Japan Airlines is to introduce award-winning Miyazaki beef to its inflight meals for First Class passengers on international routes from Tokyo (Narita) to Europe and North America from today (9 January) until 31 March 2013, to commemorate the launch of JAL Sky Suite 777 - the airline's latest inflight products and services.   Produced in Miyazaki Prefecture situated in the southern islands of Kyushu, Japan, Miyazaki beef is rated over level A-4 by the Japan Meat Grading Association for its outstanding quality of meat. It won the topmost accolades in five of nine categories in a nationwide wagyu (Japanese beef) quality contest that is held every five years, for two consecutive contests (2007 and 2012), and is recognized as the most superior beef in Japan and a well-known prime label overseas.   Between today and 28 February 2013, JAL will serve the high grade beef in First Class as a main western meal selection.  Customers will be able to enjoy the Miyazaki beef fillet "alla Rossini", matched with fragrantly seared foie gras and apple - a menu specially crafted by Seiji Yamamoto, Michelin 3-star chef and owner of distinguished Japanese restaurant Ryugin.   There will be a regular change of menu from 1 March 2013 and JAL will continue to utilize Miyazaki beef in the new line-up until 31 March 2013.

Boingo Expands Partnership with NTT Docomo

Dec 13 (Thu ), 2012

Boingo Wireless has expanded its relationship with NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s premier mobile communications companies and the second largest mobile operator in Asia.   The agreement will give NTT Docomo access to Boingo’s global network of more than 600,000 hotspots, including hundreds of airports, thousands of hotels and restaurants, and myriad metropolitan hotzones worldwide.   “Our partnership with NTT Docomo is a testament to the strength of our global Wi-Fi network and its ability to provide an offload solution for one of the largest mobile carriers in the Asia Pacific region,” said Allen Pan, director of Asia Pacific for Boingo Wireless. “As the cost of global data roaming has become an increasing pain point for carriers, our turnkey global Wi-Fi platform will give them a remedy to ease that pain for customers, as well.”   Through a separate agreement with NTT Docomo, Boingo customers and partners can now access NTT Docomo’s more than 55,000 hotspots throughout Japan, in locations such as airport lounges, hotels, shopping centers, restaurants and cafes, and transit stations. The NTT Docomo hotspot network will also be available to Boingo’s other platform service partners.   The addition of the NTT Docomo locations increases Boingo’s Wi-Fi footprint in Japan to more than 60,000 hotspots.

China-Japan air travel recovering

Dec 08 (Sat ), 2012

Air travel demand has started to recover on routes between China and Japan after previously being hammered because of the territorial dispute between the two countries. "Demand from business class passengers is coming back to the level before [the disputes happened]," said Shinichiro Ito, the president and chief executive of All Nippon Airways. "Sooner or later, a full recovery will come, probably next year." However, leisure travel still had not shown signs of recovery as tourists would rather delay their trips until the tension subsided, Ito said. "We forecast that December's passenger volume will swing back to as much as 80 per cent of the level in the same period last year," he said. Continue reading

Toyota donates $1 million to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

Nov 01 (Thu ), 2012

Toyota today announced a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the regions worst-hit by the storm. In addition, Toyota will match employee contributions to the American Red Cross and other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in affected communities. Commenting on the donation, Shigeki Terashi, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., said, "On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since we have operations and many dealerships in the affected regions, we felt a special responsibility to lend a hand. In addition to this contribution, many Toyota employees are already involved in volunteer activities to support those in need. We very much appreciate their support."  

Hawaiian Airlines Launches Honolulu - Sapporo Flights

Oct 31 (Wed ), 2012

Hawaiian Airlines has launched flights between Honolulu and Sapporo in Japan. The capital city of the island of Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest and northernmost island, Sapporo, is Japan’s fourth-largest city with a population of 1.9 million. Sapporo is renowned for its ski resorts – the city hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics – and the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival, which annually attracts millions of visitors each February to see its spectacular snow and ice sculptures. Hawaiian’s Honolulu-Sapporo service is adding 41,000 new air seats to the market annually and the benefit to Hawaii’s visitor industry will be significant, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “Today’s launch of Hawaiian Airlines’ new Sapporo route is great news for Hawaii’s tourism economy and will generate an estimated $61 million in visitor spending and $6.7 million in state tax revenue” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “The flight will also provide residents of Hokkaido with its only direct access to Hawaii. We remain committed to working with Hawaiian Airlines to ensure the success of this flight and providing visitors greater accessibility to our state.” Hawaiian’s Flight HA 441 departs Honolulu International Airport on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 14:45, crosses the international dateline, and arrives at Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport at 19:00 the following day. The return flight HA 442 departs Sapporo on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 21:30, crosses the international dateline, and arrives in Honolulu at 09:55 the same day. Hawaiian will operate its Honolulu-Sapporo flights with wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft seating 264 passengers, with 18 in Business Class and 246 in the Main Cabin.

Rakuten Selling Low-Price Solar Panels for Homes

Oct 23 (Tue ), 2012

 Major Japanese Internet Shopping Website Launches Sale of Low-Price Solar Panels for Home Use   Rakuten Inc., one of Japan's major Internet shopping site operators, launched on July 17, 2012, a new service called "Rakuten Solar," where it sells home-use solar panels. The company partnered with solar panel system company Ecosystem Japan Co. to provide integrated services spanning from solar panel sales to installation without the use of intermediaries. It offers seven types of models that provide electricity ranging from 2.77 kilowatts (kW) to 3.33 kW, 3.88 kW, 4.44 kW, 4.99 kW, 5.55 kW, and 6.29kW.   Rakuten established a structure where it can provide low-cost systems without compromising in terms of quality by limiting the choice of lineup, buying in bulk, and dealing with a part of the service procedure on the website. It first started this service in the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, and now expands nationwide to except isolated islands and areas of heavy snowfall.     Source: JFS

HK Marathon Registration Opens Oct. 24

Oct 23 (Tue ), 2012

Registration for 2013 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon to Open 24 October 2012   The first phase of registration for the 17th Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, featuring the Marathon, Half Marathon and Wheelchair Races, will start tomorrow, 24 October 2012 at 7am.    Registration for the 10km will commence on 31 October 2012. Entry quotas will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, and the registration deadline is 30 November 2012.    The 17th Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon will take place on 24 February 2013.   Chairman of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2013 Organizing Committee, William Ko, said, "We expect the majority of participants will register through our online system. To avoid online traffic congestion, two separate registration periods are offered to participants joining different races. We hope this will smooth out the enrollment process."   The entry fee is HK$300, and applicants registering online via the official website will receive instant confirmation upon successful application.   Marathon participants are reminded to assess their own fitness prior to registration to decide which race category to enter, and to allow themselves adequate preparation and proper training to achieve optimal performance on race day.   Web: http://www.hkmarathon.com