It was a great day for Malaysia and Hawaiian Tourism today. $189 Honolulu – Kuala Lumpur. It’s not a travel industry rate, it’s not a hoax, it’s the cost of a one-way ticket on Air Asia from Honolulu to Kuala Lumpur, or $799.00 on a premium flatbed seat.
A proud Air Asia X CEO Benyamin Ismail and Chairperson Tan Sri Radidah Aziz together with the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States HE Tan Sri Dr. Zulhasnan Rafique joined the State of Hawaii Chief of Staff Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Dr. Szigeti this afternoon at the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel to celebrate the arrival of the first low cost carrier from Asia to touch done at Honolulu International Airport.
Air Asia has big hopes entering the United States Market with their flight to Honolulu after the National Carrier, Malaysian Airlines, pulled out. Ambassador Dr. Zulhasnan Rafique told the Air Asia CEO today: “It’s the embassies wish for Air Asia to also look at the US West and East Coast as additional gateways.”
Air Asia cannot be found on regular booking platforms like Expedia but is relying on its own booking portal at airasia.com . The core business for this low cost carrier are FIT bookings. It’s also not an airline travel agents would usually offer. Air Asia CEP Ismail told eTN: “It’s all part of our business model to keep expenses low.” Instead of paying commission to booking portals or travel agents, we keep this revenue in-house and pass savings on to our passengers.”
The flight from Kuala Lumpur stops in Osaka with full traffic permission to pick up and transport passengers between Honolulu and Osaka. According to Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George Szigeti, Osaka is 20% of the Japanese market. Osaka and Honolulu is now linked for just $149.00 each way.
Hawaii wants more visitors from Malaysia and the rest of the ASEAN region, Malaysia would love to spread the Aloha Spirit in Malaysia. Tourism boards from Indonesia to Thailand are most definitely looking at this new attractive link to attract an enhanced group of visitors.
The last time an US airline linked Hawaii with Bali through Guam was Continental Airlines, what became United Airlines. With Air Asia an affordable link between the two islands is established again through Kuala Lumpur.
When asked about difficulties for Malaysian travelers to get visas for the U.S., the Malaysian ambassador told eTurboNews. “We are very hopeful Malaysia will be added to the US Visa Waiver program soon. We already fulfilled all US Government requirements, except the rejection rate for Malaysian applying for American visas has to be below 3%. Currently, this rate is 3.4%.
Air Asia has an excellent network within the ASEAN region and to the Middle East able to connect 120+ cities with Honolulu. The low-cost carrier provides competitive services with an Asian smile. This was demonstrated today by four beautiful looking Japanese Air Asia flight attendants joining the event.
HTA CEO George Szigeti told eTurboNews, this air link is also opening up new opportunities for the MICE (Meeting and Incentive Industry) and for the Hawaii Convention Center to strengthen their goal to become a meeting place between East and West in the Pacific.