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No-frills airlines set to take off in Asia-Pacific region
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-01-16 16:44

When 32-year-old Zhu Zhaorui wrapped up an 84-day, 14-nation tour in 2002 at a cost of $3,000, many of his Chinese friends were left wondering how he managed to cover his airfares for that amount, let alone other costs.

The answer is low-cost airlines. His total expenditure on airfares was just $1,000.

Low-cost airlines have operated in Western markets for decades, and are now beginning to appear in Asia.

In October, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines made its maiden flight from Hong Kong to London for a fare of HK$1,000, more than 30 percent cheaper than the fare offered by conventional airlines.

In December, Viva Macao began a service from Macao to Jakarta for 88 Macao patacas, or 88 yuan. It now also offers flights to the Maldives for 888 yuan.

The newest player is Malaysia's AirAsia X, which was launched on January 5 and said it would carry passengers to Britain for HK$22 on its maiden flight scheduled for July. It also plans to fly to North China's Tianjin and East China's Hangzhou.

The mushrooming low-cost airline industry will benefit many budget travelers in the region who want to tour the globe but cannot afford expensive fares.

New players will also bring changes to a market that is dominated by conventional airlines, forcing them to offer better service and greater discounts.

After all, a competitive market with diverse services is in the interests of consumers and the market itself.

There are now 18 budget airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region. Their experience could be instructive for the Chinese mainland, the world's second-largest aviation market that will one day have its own low-cost carriers.

First, safety is always the priority. No one would risk their life for a cheap ticket.

The industry watchdog should be cautious about giving licenses to operators. And the safety criteria should not differ between airlines, however they operate.

Second, low-cost airlines should not neglect the quality of their services, despite the imperative to save costs.

Doing away with free meals is fair enough, but passenger needs must be met.

Source:China Daily 
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