AirAsia’s Macau-Japan routes under study alongside hub plans

AirAsia has plans to further expand services in Macau, the leader of the low-cost carrier’s local arm disclosed on the sidelines of a business event yesterday.

Speaking on behalf of the company was Celia Lao, chief executive officer of the airline’s Macau and Hong Kong Office, who affirmed the company’s interest in making Macau a hub.

Previous reports disclosed the airline’s intention to set up a hub in Macau. Currently, the airline is in communication with the government in terms of the criteria it should meet.

“We have the intention,” reiterated Lao. “Once the criteria are issued, we will further our work. For the time being, we will focus on expanding our network.” Air Macau is currently operating a concession in Macau, which grants it exclusivity on the airline’s preferred routes. Consent from Air Macau needs to be obtained should anybody want to operate routes to and from Macau. However, the 25-year concession will conclude in November next year.

Besides its origin in Malaysia, AirAsia has hubs in several other jurisdictions, including Japan. This year saw the expansion of routes to Tokyo by Air Macau. When asked whether AirAsia is interested in opening Japan routes to Macau, Lao disclosed that the airline’s office in Japan has already applied for an approval. Calculation for its operational capacity is also underway.

Currently, AirAsia operates in 150 destinations with a fleet of 270 aircrafts. Lao is confident in the company’s operational capacity and readiness to open new routes.

ROKKI, a subsidiary of AirAsia and official in-flight entertainment and connectivity provider, presented its business- to-business capabilities at the same event.

It equips AirAsia flights with in-flight connections so that passengers can enjoy audio-visual entertainment with their own smart devices. ROKKI is not only an e-magazine that shows content, but also a point-of-sale system on which passengers can make purchases on and off their flights.

Yesterday, the firm signed a collaboration agreement with a local magazine, Phoenix Skyscape, which from now will be the sole agent of the system in Macau.

Sargunan Seenivasan, chief executive officer of ROKKI, said he and his team saw the passion in the magazine’s team, which turned the collaboration into a reality. He also recalled that it is the first time the company has collaborated with a company outside of Malaysia.

The executive saw this as an opportunity to help Macau brands globalize and expand to other markets. “We want [Macau brands] to talk with people they have not talked with before,” he said.

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