Kingfisher Red to soon touch S-E Asian skies
Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines will face-off with Asia’s budget airline pioneer Tony Fernandes-led AirAsia in South-East Asian skies. India’s beer-to-airline billionaire is mulling introduction of his value offering, Kingfisher Red, on SE Asian routes, even as AirAsia kicked off operations to India—flying into Trichy from its base in Kuala Lumpur. Sources said Kingfisher Red, formerly Air Deccan, was planning to fly on Chennai-Kuala Lumpur route, but is yet to apply to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. It is believed that Kingfisher Red is charting a distinct strategy on international flights, and is seen evaluating several sectors connecting India to S-E Asia and M-E. Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes, who is also a personal friend of Mr Mallya, is eyeing aggressive expansion in the Indian market. The Malaysian airline tycoon also plans to fly to Chennai, along with other destinations like Madurai, Cochin and Coimbatore in the next one-and-a-half years. AirAsia-X, the long haul subsidiary of AirAsia, plans to connect New Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata subsequently. Speculation has also been gaining ground that Mr Fernandes could be interested in buying equity stake in Indian carriers once the government permission falls in place. According to the industry sources, AirAsia’s flights for the Trichy-Kuala Lumpur route have been completely booked till May. The airline started its daily direct flights for this route from December 1 2008. “Tamil Nadu is historically linked with Malaysia and people here are finding the discounted fare offered by AirAsia as a good opportunity to travel to the port city,” said Travel Tours marketing vice-president Ashwin Narayanan.