Sri Lanka must have budget terminal: Air Asia founder

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sept 01, 2009 (LBO) – Air Asia’s flamboyant chief executive says Sri Lankan tourism will get a boost if airport expansion plans include budget carrier-friendly infrastructure to reduce the cost of air travel. Air Asia, which began daily flights to the island from its Kuala Lumpur hub in August, had sold 30,000 tickets before its first flight landed by offering seats at a third of the price charged by full service airlines.

Its chief executive Tony Fernandes says Air Asia’s cost per passenger kilometer is the lowest in the industry despite the airline growing to 82 aircraft carrying 22 million people every year.

LBR’s Shamindra Kulamannage interviewed Tony Fernandes recently. Excerpts:

Q: What’s Air Asia’s Sri Lanka strategy? Do you want to carry tourists between the two destinations or do you think your Colombo flight will help feed in to your network including the long range?

I think it would be both. Coming out of the plane today gave me a flavor of what’s to come. Maybe three aspects of the market.

One is that Air Asia brings to any city really the world now. On our flight we had Serbians, Australians, Japanese, and Americans, who have come fr