Being the world’s best low-cost airline, Air Asia has won the heart of travelers from all segments. A number of promotions with incredibly low-fares launched by Air Asia Indonesia have hitherto attracted many locals and foreign tourists.
Nevertheless, Air Asia Indonesia president director Dharmadi told The Jakarta Globe’s contributor Aulia R. Sungkar that the airline’s low cost should not be the only measurement in determining the success of the airline. How the Malaysia’s budget carrier stays persistently on track in terms of enhancing travel experience is what it takes to achieve more success.
The following are excerpt from the interview:
Q: How confident are you in leading Air Asia Indonesia to the next level?
A: It’s very much, indeed. The airline’s new route linking Bali and Perth witnesses not only my confidence in Air Asia, but more importantly the new route will build another gateway to the Air Asia Indonesia’s operation. The new route has yet to take place officially until July 17th this year, but we are having the sales launching tomorrow (on May 5th). This means that you will be able to purchase the tickets through either on-line service or travel agents in just within a matter of hours. In spite of having less than three months period before the inauguration, my team is very optimistic that our attractive offers on the new route will draw many local and foreign travelers.
A: Yes, but there is another more important element, which is the strategic location of the hub.
Q: What do you mean by the hub?
A: Bali as an Air Asia’s hub. We have already connected Bali to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. We have four flights in our daily schedule in each destination. And we are planning to double the frequency for route linking Singapore and Bali. There are various reasons what have made Bali become our hub, but the most important is what the island has to offer. Bali is indisputably the most favorite destination of Indonesia’s tourism. Spending joyous moments on the island’s rich cultural preservation doing various fun activities in exotic ambience of modern lifestyle is indeed what tourists treasure the most. Australians have made up great percentage of foreign tourists coming to Bali and therefore it is crucial for Air Asia to open a new route that can link the two destinations between the two countries.
A: Indonesian tourists are ranked the ninth among world’s countries visiting Western Australia, Perth in particular. While more and more Indonesians coming to the state (WA), the number of Australians tourists in Bali keeps increasing.
Q: Are you saying that with today’s global economic downturn and the historical calamity of Bali bombings, more Australians are now visiting Bali?
A: Yes, indeed. The data from Tourism Ministry indicates an increasing trend of the number of foreign tourists visiting Bali, not only from Australia but also other countries. Likewise, there is a significant increase in the number of local tourists visiting the island of gods. Friendly atmosphere, warm hospitality, rich cultural heritage, cozy shopping centers, fun entertainment and nightlife are some of the main reasons both local and foreign tourists prefer Bali to other destinations in the archipelago.
Q: Speaking of Bali, what is your opinion in regard to the development of tourism on the island in the long run?
A: Bali is always a tourism hub. Notwithstanding that there are many cities and regions in Indonesia worth to visit; Bali’s offers a distinguished holiday destination. Without doubt, the presence of a myriad of temples has imprinted a great history to visitors. But what amazes me about Bali is how the island’s communities have succeeded in maintaining their ancient culture and bring the culture into a modern melting pot society. The rapid increase of global modernization is obvious, but it doesn’t shake the island’s traditional values whatsoever. As you know, an array of attractions and activities, ranging from surfing and sunbathing to shopping and clubbing, have long become a lifestyle in Bali. In the long run, Bali will always be a splendid holiday destination offering the best of both worlds.
Q: Sounds like Air Asia is now on its way to the next level of aviation realm?
A: Yes, indeed. Not only is the Bali-Perth route important for tourism development in both Indonesia and Australia, this new route is paving the way for more gateways.
Q: So, will Air Asia add more flight to be based in Bali upon the opening of new route?
A: Of course. Air Asia has already owned one Air Bus to be based in Bali to operate the new Bali-Perth route; and another one is coming next month. In overall, as we have already had seven, more Air Bus flights are coming to the operation. We are going to have eleven by the end of the year excluding our Boeing flights.
Q: What makes Air Asia different from other airlines?
A: In addition to the Air Asia’s cheap fare, comprehensive network and friendly service, the airline’s well trained and charming staff are what lie behind the airline’s excellent in-flight service. All staff including stewardesses have to undertake a 45-day training in Air Asia Academy in Kuala Lumpur before embarking on their duty. Above all, the airline’s outstanding safety records are what lead to the Australia’s gateway. You know it is hard to get the license to fly to Australia, which has implemented strict aviation international standard. In fact, Air Asia is the only other airline operated in Indonesia granted the license to fly to Australia.
Published in The Jakarta Globe, May 6, 2009.