Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are Reds Threats?

Dear Friends,

The colour red is auspicious to the Chinese. Has it been a proven fact that red commands strength and power? The command that we stop at the traffic lights and the power it reflects in the likes of Manchester United and Formula One supreme Ferrari.
As I was reading the newspaper this morning, a full page advertisement in red flashed across me. It read, 'Absolutely comfortable, Absolutely innovative, Absolutely spacious cabins, Absolutely leather seats, Absolutely real 5-star and ABSOLUTE AIRBUS.' This is the carrier that has taken me to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It said, 'AirAsia now operates a truly brand new Airbus fleet from Malaysia.

Being a supposedly no frills - budget airline, it has done well for herself. In a span of just six years, she has established herself as the largest budget airline in the Asian region. It has done well domestically and it has also experimented 'going the extra mile' by offering X-TRA long flights to Australia, China and soon to include India, Japan, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
I have special admiration for the founder, Tony Fernandes. ( I have even added him to my blog list - on the left of my blog page). Visionary, risk taker, absurd or however one might call it - he dares to dream. His main belief is to believe the unbelievable, dream the impossible and never take 'no' for an answer. Not that I have met him personally but the articles I have read about him, has reassured me that in life nothing is impossible. It took a lot of guts and b**ls to decide on a million ringgit debt ridden investment. As it is now, history has been carved.

I mentioned in my other blog, 'Time is like a river, you cannot touch the same water twice' that I share in the same beliefs of Tony Fernandes when it comes to work; which is to have fun. He has said that having the right people, focus and discipline will ensure success in a business. I guess having a partner like Sir Richard Branson helps. Tony was an employee of Warner Music and Richard was boss. Looking at it, they both sort of have similar personalities - flamboyance, music and parties of course. Not so sure if he shares same traits with Idris Jala, Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines.:p I have met Idris and I must say he is humble, down to earth and speaks with a wealth of experience. The 'lovers spate' between both cabin captains has just made air travel for us Malaysians more affordable :)
Having spent many years in hotel sales and marketing, I like the way how AirAsia emphasises on branding. The red baseball cap constantly worn, catchy slogans, free seats given away - these are all successful strategies. The link with Manchester United (electronic boards at Old Trafford), Formula One AT&T Williams team (official airline) and referees officiating in the English Premier League (AirAsia's crest on their left sleeves). Another would be how the cabin crew are allowed to 'experiment' with different hairstyles and colours unlike the traditional all black and bunned up imposed by their rivals.

I have travelled many times with AirAsia. I remember the wee hours of the mornings I awake myself for the first flight of the day; the long queues waiting to check -in at the LCCT; the annoying loud conversations of the cabin crew among themselves on board; the long walk along the tarmac to the aircraft and the cockpit crew walking down the cabin aisle to ensure 'presence', to name a few.
One of the most intolerable experience will definitely be their delays(or re-timed as the airlines call it). Most times, they will tell passengers that this is unavoidable as it deals with safety issues. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) classifies a delay to be when a flight exceeds its departing schedule by 15 minutes. However, I must say that it has improved tremendously. Their website indicated that in August, they achieved a 88% on time performance. Will we ever see a further 12% conversion?
One of the most memorable flights would be on board AK 760. I was seated on row 1 (upon paying for express boarding). As the aircraft was approaching Hanoi, a lady was calling for help in despair. Her infant was turning blue and was lacking oxygen. The crew immediately made a distress call over the public address system requesting for a doctor. There was none on board and I realised that they couldn't do much. The oxygen tank was brought down but was not administered. The entire cabin came to a stand still and I was just silently saying a prayer for the infant and the mother. We landed and an ambulance was on hand to assist the situation.

I can only see better days ahead for this home grown Malaysian brand. From the inception on 8 December 2001 for a mere RM 1 (Ringgit Malaysia), coupled that with a RM 40 million debt, it has a lot to be proud about today. Air travel will continue to grow and it will be inevitable to stop this red giant from flourishing.

They have a new destination launching soon called Tiruchirappalli (wherever that is), interested anyone?

As their tag goes, "Now everyone can fly".
And yes, Reds are threats!

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