Air travel in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand has captured the
region’s headlines in recent months.
Bali has been quiet, since a terrorist bombing last October
killed more than 200 people. Yet the Balinese are optimistic that
tourists are about to flood back.
At least Balinese businessman Kadek Wiranatha thinks so.
In February, he launched Bali’s first airline, Air Paradise,
with flights three times a week from Denpasar to Melbourne, four
times a week to Perth and three times a week to Jakarta.
He plans to add service to Sydney and Seoul in June. The
three-flights-a-week to Sydney will coincide with the beginning of
the Australian winter, usually a high season for Bali.
Unlike U.S. airlines, Air Paradise says on its Web site:
“Tickets available from your preferred travel agent;” and that full
meals are served to all travelers.
Air Paradise no ties to Paradise Air in Florida is using an
Airbus A310, leased from Singapore Airlines, which offers 12 seats
in business class and 171 in economy coach. A second leased plane
is almost ready for delivery.
The runaway success of Malaysia’s AirAsia, the continent’s first
cut-rate, frill-free airline, has upset the conventional mores that
air travel is an exclusive, luxurious experience, reserved for the
In the last year, AirAsia, which has modeled itself on Southwest
Airlines, Ryanair and Virgin Blue, has moved from the brink of
insolvency to its current position as the Asian travel story of
In April, the privately owned carrier will begin flights twice a
day between Kuala Lumpur and two towns In Borneo: Sandakan in Sabah
State and Sibu in Sarawak State. The addition will bring its total
destinations to 14, all within Malaysia.
Probably the most popular destinations for foreign visitors are
Kuching, Langkawi Island and Penang.
As an example of AirAsia’s low rates, the 178-mile one-way trip
between Kuala Lumpur and Penang can cost as little as $10.
Tune Air, a Malaysian carrier, took over the struggling airline
in December 2001 and introduced the new strategy, a month later. By
the end of 2002, AirAsia was fending off suitors who wanted
long-haul partnerships or ventures in Thailand, Indonesia and the
In light of AirAsia’s success, Singapore Airlines now says that
it may consider launching a no-frills service on SilkAir, its
In an unusual protest, 38 Thai Airways pilots have refused to
fly to three provincial airports, citing safety risks. They were
promptly suspended by the government-owned airline, but their
actions seem to be having an impact. The government now says that,
among other things, it will extend the runway at Krabi, a
four-year-old airport that serves west-coast beaches.
In the meantime, Phuket Airlines, a small private carrier, is
serving the three airports, during daylight hours.
Thai Airways is trying to boost its first- and business-class
occupancy with two special discounts. A 37 percent discount is
offered on any single first- or business-class seat, booked before
the end of October.
It also has a “buy one, get one free” deal, available on its
first- and business-class seats on its Bangkok-Tokyo-San Francisco