Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Air Asia Launches Long-Haul Services from Thailand

The new long-haul low-cost carrier was officially unveiled at an event in Bangkok on Tuesday (22 April 2014), with CEO Nadda Buranasiri announcing the airline’s first routes and in-flight products.

Operating from its home base at Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport, Thai AirAsia X will start flying on 17 June 2014 with daily services to Seoul. It will then expand its operations with flights to the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka commencing later in the year.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be Thailand’s first low-cost long-haul carrier,” said Nadda. “While Thai AirAsia’s Airbus A320 planes continue to offer the best connectivity for short-haul destinations, Thai AirAsia X will be operating Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft to destinations that are further than a four-hour flight time from Bangkok.”

Nadda revealed that future destinations could include Australia and China, as long as the flight times fitted in with the airline’s strategy.
Thai AirAsia X will operate a fleet of Airbus A330-300s
Thai AirAsia X will operate a fleet of Airbus A330-300s

“We know that Thailand is a preferred destination for Australians,” Nadda toldTravel Daily at a media briefing. “We would [also] consider Chinese destinations over four hours in length.”

Thai AirAsia has already established a strong presence in China, with flights to nine mainland cities. And while Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, confirmed that “Thai AirAsia X will not take over any routes from Thai AirAsia”, the new airline’s four-to-nine-hour flight times could open up such destinations as Beijing.

Thai AirAsia X will also be looking to use Thai AirAsia’s network of short-haul routes to offer a greater range of destinations for its passengers. For example, passengers on inbound flights from Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka will be able to connect to a range of Thai domestic destinations such as Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai, or regional hubs like Siem Reap and Yangon, via Bangkok.

In terms of aircraft, Thai AirAsia X will initially operate two Airbus A330-300 aircraft, each offering 377 seats – 12 in business class and 365 in economy. These planes will come equipped with flat-bed seats for premium passengers and special ‘quiet zones’. Asked what fleet expansion plans Thai AirAsia X has, Nadda told Travel Daily that any new aircraft deliveries would “depend on demand”.

Thai AirAsia X received its Air Operator’s Certificate late last year, but delayed its launch – initially planned for February 2014 – due to the impact of Bangkok’s political protests on the country’s travel industry. But Nadda said he remained confident the airline would record load factors of up to 80% on both its new routes.

The CEO also predicted that traffic on both Korean and Japanese services would be a 50-50 mix between Thai and international. The destinations were selected in part due to the fact that South Korea and Japan both offer visa-free travel for Thai nationals.

Thai AirAsia X becomes the seventh branch of the AirAsia group, following AirAsia Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and India, and AirAsia X in Malaysia.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

American Airlines "Deaf and Dumb" Outrage.

A deaf couple is upset over a note that an American Airlines employee attached to one of their bags, referring to the pair as "deaf and dumb."

James Moehle and Angela Huckaby were returning home to Houston from a vacation in Hawaii when one of their bags was misplaced by the airline. When it was delivered later, a handwritten note attached to the bag read, "Please Text Deaf And Dumb."

Airline spokesman Casey Norton said Friday that the employee who wrote the note did not intend to insult anyone and will go through sensitivity training.

One of the couple's bags was misplaced on the final leg of the couple's journey home, from Dallas to Houston. In such cases, American uses another company to delivery late-arriving baggage to passengers.

Norton said an American employee who is not a native English speaker scrawled the note to alert a delivery driver that he should contact the couple by text message when delivering the bag.

The airline employee "will go through new respect training," Norton said. "We are using it as a systemwide teaching example so that everybody is more respectful of those who have different impairments."

That was welcome news for Kaye Moehle, who had initially demanded that the worker be fired.

"I felt hurt for my son because I know how hard he works" — he's been employed as a technician at the same heating and air conditioning company for 16 years.

On Friday, Moehle said she didn't want anyone to lose their job and that some good could come out of the situation.