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Old 02.12.2008, 01:34
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Open Skies Singapore - Kuala Lumpur finally

For those who intend to holiday in Singapore and Malaysia, there is some good news with reduced airfares caused by increased competition and relaxation of rules. AirAsia also flies the London Stansted-Kuala Lumpur route at a very affordable rate, and Air Asia Lanka flies the Colombo - South India as well as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore routes - so plenty of low cost options.

http://www.mysinchew.com/node/18720

SINGAPORE: More than 70 years after the first Singapore-Kuala Lumpur commercial flight, all restrictions will be lifted on airlines flying between the two cities from Monday (1 Dec).



It took five years of lobbying by budget airlines and travellers before the final barriers to open air travel could be dismantled in one of Asia's most restricted air sectors.



The big winner in this move to liberalise the sector is the traveller. Liberalisation means choices galore--more carriers, more flights--and lower fares as competition grows.


Cracks in the barriers first appeared in February this year, when low-cost carriers Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia and AirAsia received the all-clear to fly between the two cities--but with a caveat. Only four flights a day were allowed in total.


That's set to change. From Monday, there will be up to 14 daily low-cost services. This is on top of the more than 15 full-service flights available, operated mainly by Singapore Airlines (SIA), SilkAir and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).



With this big boost in capacity, the Singapore-KL sector will overtake the Singapore-Bangkok and Singapore-Jakarta routes to become the most heavily served route out of Changi Airport, based on the number of flights and seats set to flood the market.



According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), there will be 432 flights a week between Singapore and KL from Monday. That's a 120% increase over the figure a year earlier.



In contrast, there has been a slight year-on-year drop in the number of flights between Singapore and Jakarta, which is 328, and between Singapore and Bangkok, which is served by 303 flights.



Data obtained from Britain-based OAG, which tracks flight bookings and trends, shows that more than 1.4 million seats will be released for the Singapore-KL route from Monday till end-March next year. This is a spike of almost 60% compared with the same four-month period a year ago.
The Singapore-Bangkok sector dips to second spot and Singapore-Jakarta to third, with about 1.3 million seats being released in each market.
Filling up so many seats on the Singapore-KL route will be tough, several industry players, including MAS, have warned.



The liberalisation comes at a time when a global financial meltdown is wreaking havoc on the air travel industry, on a scale not seen since the Sars crisis in 2003.



Hit by weak demand for travel, hard-pressed airlines are cutting capacity, dropping routes, parking planes and shedding staff.



Still, carriers remain upbeat that the additional capacity being injected into the Singapore-KL sector - mainly by low-cost carriers - will stimulate new demand and, in time, grow the pie for all.



According to Ms Kathleen Tan, the regional head of AirAsia's commercial division, six in 10 of its customers are either first-timers or repeat fliers. Its clients also include those who used to fly with full-service airlines as well as bus travellers.



Malaysia offers a base of 25 million people for airlines to tap, so liberalisation can only grow the market, she noted.



At travel facilitator Abacus International, vice-president for North Asia and content marketing Patrick Lai agreed, adding that the proximity of the two cities, as well as close 'business, personal and cultural relationships, may provide a considerable stimulus for the travel market'.


There is no 'one size fits all' strategy, and experts note that different carriers will appeal to different passenger types.


SIA and MAS are banking on their international networks and connectivity to reel in customers, as well as a code-share arrangement that allows a traveller holding an SIA ticket, for example, to also fly with MAS, and vice-versa. In code-sharing, a flight operated by one airline is jointly marketed as a flight on other airlines.


MAS commercial director Abdul Rashid Khan said that the Singapore-KL route is significant not just as a point-to-point service, but also as a "springboard" for the airline's services out of KL.


SIA competes on the basis of its strengths, said spokesman Stephen Forshaw. They include innovative products and service offerings, as well as an extensive network that spans 150 major cities, including code-shares.
In the end, the market will decide whether there are too many or too few seats, Mr Forshaw noted.


"But markets are dynamic and, as with many other routes, there will be too much capacity at times and too little at other times," he said. "An open market allows airlines to adjust capacity freely--either up or down--which is a good thing."


Certainly, liberalisation has been good for the flying public. They get not only extra seats and flights but also slashed fares, as airlines try to stimulate demand in the face of the current slowdown in the travel segment.


The price war erupted several weeks ago when the low-cost boys started offering seats for practically nothing. Travellers could get a return trip to KL for less than S$60 (US$39.6), basically paying for just the airport tax and other surcharges. That's less than the cost of a one-way ride on a luxury coach.


Not to be outdone, MAS went to the market with its offer of S$172 nett for a round-trip fare: S$89 out of Singapore and 199 ringgit (US$54.9) out of Kuala Lumpur. SIA then released tickets at S$293 each, for two people travelling together.


These discounted fares are way below the round-trip charges of more than S$400 imposed in the days when the two national carriers had a virtual monopoly over the market.


The liberalisation of the Singapore-KL market is part of a wider plan to free the skies above Asean.


When the transport ministers of the 10 member states met in the Philippines recently, they agreed on a long-term road map that will see the creation of an Asean Single Aviation Market by 2015.


When that happens, all carriers of member states will be able to criss-cross the region's skies without any restrictions.


But liberalisation rarely comes easy, and fares for the Singapore-KL sector are a case in point.


There had long been complaints about the exorbitantly high rates for the 45-minute sector, but it was only in August 2006 that travellers saw a glimmer of hope.


Malaysia's then-transport minister Chan Kong Choy surprised many when he revealed that his ministry had set up a committee to study the implications of opening up the route.


It took another 14 months for the two governments to decide that they would give low-cost carriers a foot in the market from February this year and allow full liberalisation from Monday.


Seventy-one years after Wearne's Air Service--the first airline to operate internal flights in what was then Malaya--launched thrice-weekly Singapore-KL flights in June 1937, the full potential of the market is finally being realised. (By KARAMJIT KAUR/ The Straits Times/ ANN)


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Old 02.12.2008, 14:34
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Re: Open Skies Singapore - Kuala Lumpur finally

I guess this is good news however I remember when I looked at flights between KL and Singapore the prices on both national carriers was pretty reasonable and the flights extremely frequent. However in the end we took one of those luxury inter-city coaches (~5hrs) since I couldn't bear the sight of yet another airport.
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Old 02.12.2008, 15:59
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Re: Open Skies Singapore - Kuala Lumpur finally

Excellent news .... All that is needed now is that high speed rail service
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Old 26.11.2012, 20:39
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Re: Open Skies Singapore - Kuala Lumpur finally

Tune hotels is the hotel chain of Air Asia.

They have a promo for very early bookers here.

Good if you are planning for a trip in that region during that period especially if on a budget.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tune_Hotels
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