MAS, AirAsia slash prices, foreign airlines join the fray


Saturday September 23, 2006

MAS, AirAsia slash prices, foreign airlines join the fray


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have again entered into another round of fare war by dropping prices by as much as 61% but this time around foreign carriers have joined in the fray.

Malaysian travellers are in for a treat this weekend as the airlines battle it out to attract passengers with the year-end holidays coming up.

MAS revealed its airfares and tour packages yesterday with discounts of up to 61% in conjunction with the three-day Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) fairs held in Kota Kinabalu, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.

Among the cheapest airfare on offer by MAS is to regional destinations like Jakarta with a return fare of RM300, Bangkok (RM350), Hong Kong (RM650) and Beijing (RM800).

For its tour packages on Golden Holidays, a four-night-three-day free-and-easy Jakarta package costs RM633 while a similar one to Hong Kong starts from RM1,297.

However, AirAsia has gone on a different route by giving 60 of its agents participating in the fairs special rates to complement the agencys own ground package.

The low-cost carrier has set aside 100,000 seats for these agents to sell and have offered them fares from as low as RM9.99. It is also using the fairs to introduce Hanoi as its latest regional route with prices from RM79.99.

The budget airline also launched its year-end offer fare yesterday with domestic destination prices starting from RM19.99 (KL-Johor Baru) and international fares from RM29.99 (Phnom Penh).

AirAsias sister company go holiday is also using the fairs to launch its third anniversary deals. Among its offers is a group discount for those booking even for just two people. Previously, the discount was only for a minimum of 10 people.

The foreign airlines operating from here have also offered their own discounts with Singapore Airlines (SIA) launching its online fares last week.

Among the other airlines that have also reduced their prices to match MAS offer are Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Royal Brunei Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and Austrian Airlines. (See chart for comparison)

Travellers and travel agents are relishing the fares on offer, saying the prices are throwback to prices 10 years ago.

However, many agents warned that although the prices are cheap, the fares do not include the fuel surcharges and other taxes.

There are strict travel conditions while cancellations or changing of travel dates will be very expensive.

Not every flight will be on offer and seats will be difficult to come by, warned one agent.

Royal Brunei Airlines country manager for Malaysia Karen Low agreed, saying that for her own airline it was a peak period soon with the coming holidays.

We have made some offers on our routes to London and Australia. This is to make sure of our presence at the fairs.