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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AirAsia Propels The Megatrend of the Decade

One deep aspiration of over 2 billion citizens of the world's largest continent - Asia - is being fulfilled this decade. And that aspiration needs to be summed up in a few imaginative sentences.

See the world. Travel the seven seas. Conquer the jiang hu (江湖). Climb every mountain.

The catalyst behind that helps fulfil this aspiration is affordable air travel. When those words are stringed together it is almost a reflex to think of or about AirAsia. Pavlovian or repeated pairing psychology - or simply powerful branding and truly remarkable pricing for the masses.

We can say this strategy is played by most powerful corporations. "Vorsprung durch Technik." "You merely look after it for the next generation." "Born This Way." Dark blue well defined unobstructive and white boxes. The World On Time.

AirAsia's namesake itself is a powerful marketing name. First it encompasses the massive continent. The continent of the Orient. Ancient Spice Islands. The origin and mystery of tea that captivated ancient England for centuries. Tom yum guung. Balinese temples. And that's just the ones who are conditioned to remember.

There are vast open country that previously is inaccessible, except if you're a well-funded anthropologist, some czar or magnate; much unlike what we read about the big five animals of Africa.

At the rate AirAsia is expanding their routes, it would be within this decade, that perhaps almost all those inaccessible destinations, be opened for all.

For short distance yet still unopened or currently served by a single airline:
1) Kingdom of Bhutan - not too far northwest of Bangkok. The distance is 2000 km with a flight time of 2.5 hours. This is a wonderful happy nation. And surely their new king wants to be connected to Asia not just the current situation in which they depend alot on India.
2) Kathmandu Nepal - this destination is already in the plans. Likely the route will open by the 3rd quarter of 2011. There are many Nepalese working in countries nearby including Malaysia, Singapore and India. With a good AirAsia connection, more of them can have better access to overseas jobs and perhaps at a lower cost of travel. While now it will be more possible for garden variety folks to try to climb the highest mountain(s).
3) East Timor - this small nation needs alot of support from the region. And one that is connectivity.
4) Andaman and Nicobar Islands - In 2004, I met the Indian owner of a resort in these islands, just off the coast of Thailand. It became a bit known after the tsunami, which wreck havoc there. This is a very unexplored territory of India. Perhaps AirAsia can tap this route to Port Blair.

To conquer and connect Asia, some routes that can change the scope of exclusivity are:
1) Mongolia - with a good route into Mongolia, there is a chance travellers can get into Russia and to places such as Lake Baikal, a vast lake with ancient sea-like creatures and the only fresh water seals. Was so amazed with the nature there after watching one episode of BBC's Planet Earth series.
Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray]Life (narrated by David Attenborough) [Blu-ray]Planet Earth & The Blue Planet Seas of Life (Special Collector's Edition)

2) Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.
3) South America - such as Brazil, Argentina. And Central America such as Belize, Mexico, Cuba, Barbados, Antigua (I am fairly good with these Lesser Antilles nations because of an old computer game called "Sid Meier's Pirates! - Action and Adventure on the Spanish Main - by Microprose. (not related to Microsoft!) The game taught me a great deal about the Spanish Galleons, Frigates, Barbados, Maracaibo, Port Royale, and the ongoing war between the powers - plus a chance for a pirate (or entrepreneur) to seek and pillage and plunder - the gold train or armada.

With already a strong foothold in all the major destinations across Asia with the nexus of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia as the central hubs, providing more routes could be beneficial only if they are feeding into the system. Or another way is to funnel rich European or North American traffic from travel powerhubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore remains the best bet for the good traffic to come into play. While AirAsia's CEO has been lobbying the Malaysian government for close to a decade to let AirAsia operate fully, as in airport, connections, hotel, and routes - to provide a seamless organisational workflow.

The significance is that as AirAsia keeps going forward, it has to grow. Regardless of oil prices. Oil prices rising will temporarily affect AirAsia's cost and demand for seats. But each and every time more Asians will want to fulfil that aspiration of travelling and going abroad. And thus, the seat demand will be infinite. A demand for a seat will not diminish as it is filled with a next aspiring traveller. And in Asia, there is a long queue for this wanderer.

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