Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love Affair With Air Asia

There's enough vitriol spewed over the last few weeks in Malaysian politics to make one nauseous. Well, it's a Sunday, so I thought I should have a change in pace and blog about my love affair, well, one with Air Asia. (So don't expect to find me caught on camera a la CSL ;-))

I wrote an article a few weeks back which was published in The NutGraph (which they re-titled "Loving Air Asia")
I have the greatest admiration for Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, and I'm not abashed to loudly proclaim the fact that I'm a fan of Air Asia, and what it has done not only for travel in Malaysia, but for the entire region. A former colleague of mine once told me, if there's anyone who deserved his datukship, its Tony Fernandes.

Air Asia's mantra of “Now Everyone Can Fly” has really taken millions places, many of whom have never flown before. The airline is of course not without criticism, one of the most ticklish was the perversion of its motto to “Now Everyone Can Wait” for the frequency of flight delays, particularly in its early years. I've often been a victim of Air Asia delays myself, but it's a price and risk I'm willing to pay, in exchange for the affordability it affords me in travelling. After all, I've also suffered delays on trips with either the Malaysian Airline System (MAS) or the world renown Singapore Airlines (SIA).
Now, I know there are many out there who have negative sentiments against Air Asia, some of whom are my Pakatan Rakyat fellow Members of Parliament, especially over the recent issue of the still-born Labu "KLIA East" airport. But if you read my story, you'd know that my "love affair" is personal. I further believe that since I don't hold back much when "whacking" things I find distasteful (e.g., Barisan Nasional), I should also do the same for things which I really like, even if its against the grain.  You can read the full story at The NutGraph here.

I do have a part II to the above story, focusing a little more on the KLIA-East but given all the other urgent and critical things happening around us today, you may still have to wait a little before the second part sees the light of day ;-)

I'm also a big big fan of Tony Fernandes as a real entrepreneur, and I'll put him right up there with the best in the region. In fact, anyone with real ambitions to become an entrepreneur in Malaysia (I for one, had only half-ambitions, prefering early retirement ;-)), should emulate his "gung-ho" spirit. Unlike many of our country's pseudo-pretend-entrepreneurs who rely on government concession and oblique guarantees to become multi-millionaires, Tony made it big with no government guaranteed passenger traffic, protected air routes, monopoly license or government underwritten loans.

His "politics" could of course do with some improvements (speaking at Shahrizat's campaign trail(?!) Faint!) but everyone makes an honest mistake now and then ;-) After all, I was sympathetic to Pak Lah at the start of his reign, and Jeff Ooi, my fellow compatriot today, even campaigned in 2004 for BN!

For everyone's information, I don't own any shares in Air Asia although I watch over its performance. I have Tony Fernandes' handphone number, but we're not drinking buddies. I don't fly free on Air Asia although they sponsored a ticket each to Macau and Bali for my Charity Golf Tournament in October last year (Tony, I'm sure you can do better than that!!) And Tony is certainly no crony of Tony's for there's nothing I can offer except to buy air tickets at bargain basement prices. ;-)


Anonymous said...

The mantra that everyone can fly is a fantastic tag line for Air Asia.
YB, In any aviation industry, the services provided means nothing if flight safety is not given proper attention as the focus remain on competing for profit.
Is the flight safety is neglected? Cheap air tickets don't mean anything, Is our airline both MAS and Air Asia being transparent with their safety standard? Who really looks into it.
Now we can't even trust our country top leaders, even the MACC, the police and many other can we trust Tony F and his team !!!! it is scary when I come to think of this with the kind of attitude surrounding the people of this nation - power crazy, and get rich scheme, cronism and abuse of power. Oh...Lord, please help us. AMEEN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony,

agree with you that anyone can make a mistake but like to hear your opinion on

1) AA owing airport tax of RM140 million

2) KLIA East @ Labu being merely 10KM form KLIA when standard international standards should be at least 40KMs (it might be nice to look at unexpected fire works display for Labu folks but not for the 2 sets of chaps in the 2 iron birds)

Lee Wee Tak

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Pua

please can DAP show some repsect to the rulers especially to His Majesty Sultan of Perak. Repect the decision of his majesty. accept the fact that Pakatan Rakyat goverment has collapased . whether it is via ballot box or defections , to me it doesnt really matter!!!

i just wonder y your fellas are so inconsistent in your stands? when the revered Anwar went around stating that he can form the federal goverment via defections what did DAP and PAS did? Well let me remind you, practically nothing!!!!in fact Kit siang and guan eng well come it!!! only karpal has some remote reservation about it...or maybe even that was just a show or what i may term as "Wayang kulit"

similarly when the ADUN from BOTA defected from UMNO to PKR, the then Pakatan Rakyat goverment happily welcome him, but y suddenly the ADUNs from PKR & DAP decided to be independants...then there is issue of morale... and etc...y so double standard?

dont even dare raise the issue of they already resign as the silent majority knew they didnt & as a lawyer yourself you should know that an undated resignation letter is of no legal effect in the eyes of the law so stop this rubbish right here...we are not born yesterday so PAkatan leaders should stop behaving like they are the only smart people in this country..

i am rather sure this posting would not be posted on the blog as now i know the so call transparency that you DAP have be highlighting all this while is just NATO... you fella just r just fighting to be in the position of fact to be frank in the last election i voted for DAP but after all this...i think i am a idiot for listening to DAP...

NEO said...

Well, Airsia have manipulate it publish accounts for years. They're just recognising the deferred assest into income statement by just continue in acqusition of aircraft.

If this accounting method is acceptable worldwide, many company which listed in stock exchange will be able to recognised future profit by commisioning of large capex. But the fact is, this is another "Malaysia Boleh" accouting practices!

Airasia is involve in falsification of it accounts. The impact could be more serious that "Tansmile".

I'm happy that YB don't own any shares in Air Asia.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from a neutral ground, flight safety has never been an issue for either MAS or AirAsia. Both have exceptional safety standards.

When you're an airline operator, it doesn't matter if you're a full service carrier or a low cost carrier, you simply do NOT skimp on safety.

Golf Afflicted said...


Wee Tak - (1) the owing of RM140m was a false and inaccurate allegation. AA has rebutted this, and MAHB is no longer harping this point because they made a mistake in their statement (shows you how competent MAHB is)

(2) I'll talk about Labu in my subsequent article - just to provide an alternative view.


"falsification of accounts" is a serious charge and potentially defamatory (in fact I think it is), hence I hesitated to publish your comment. While I would agree that it's definitely possible to present accounts differently, I certainly wouldn't go anywhere near "falsification". This is not defending AA, but stating the facts as is.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tony Pua,

You mentioned "I further believe that since I don't hold back much when "whacking" things I find distasteful (e.g., Barisan Nasional)". Fair enough but what goes around, comes around.

Remember the time you were badly bashed-up like a stray dog begging for dustbin food during the PJ State Candlelight Vigil??? Well it seems the police & FRU too DON'T hold back when wacking things they find distastefull too.

You whack & get whacked...."part of life, huh???".

Anonymous said...

Your take on the delays by AA is spot on and for those who have went through them (paying RM1,200 for a ticket while your next door guy only paid RM300) was a bad taste in the mouth. You tried to complain via phone or email but got no response and the crew at the airport gave no apologies or logical explanations. My worst delay was 7 hours coming in from Chiangmai and with family lugging along and no seats available except floor in Chiangmai airport was a nightmare.
Then you have the "Vietnam" war scene where people rushing up the planes, when proper seat numbers would solve that. Now we know why he hold that back, all bcos of money, he want to squeeze more money from his customers.
Last but not least, without the invisible political hands, AA will not be where it is today. You try and set up a new LCC and see if you can get the same landing rights and incentives.AA can even shout at MAHB and MAS openly , knowing that they belong to the Govt. Have you ever try shouting to TNB ? They will probably tell you that they will cut off your electricity and asked you to use candles at nite.
If it is level playing field, I can bet many will rush to set up a LCC here too.
Just look all the privatised highways, there were no open tenders.

Donplaypuks® said...

Anon & Others

If it were yr biz and you were owed $140 million for more than 2 years, would you be just sitting around shaking legs or taking legal action to recover the debt?

So something's not right with this MAHB claim is it? And mind you MAHB itself owed the Govt billions and did the usual magic 're-structuring' a month ago to take care of it, meaning taxpayers got screwed.

Why don't you concentrate on the Govt and its GICS and how much Khazanah, PNB etc have lost in the global financial crisis. S'pore just publicly disclosed they lost $100 billion, while ours has been silent. And what about EPF?

We are in Feb 2009 and still no announcement about dividend. Get that feeling we are going to be screwed again?

So, don't worry about Plc's like AA. Worry more about the billions of losses teh Govt and GLC's are keeping quiet about!!

Anonymous said...

Tony Fernadez may be a great entrepreneur and all that. But I still don't trust him and his associates. Anybody who owes the taxpayers RM 140M for 2 years is something somewhere wrong.

Anonymous said...


This is a comment quoted from Malaysiakini, guess you know all this better, tell us how you feel about this -- to associate Malaysia with Zimbabwe -- sad, don't actually want to think about it with Corrupted BN.....

"It never ceases to amaze me how low the clowns from Barisan Nasional will stoop to stay in power and continue with its blatant pillaging of taxpayers' monies.

The MACC is turning out to be just another BN lapdog. The MACC is so quick to act on reports against the current democratically-elected Pakatan Rakyat MB of Selangor but chooses to ignore the years and millions if not billions of abuses under the previous administration of Khir Toyo.

Just think of the few cases which spring to mind - illegal buildings built without permits on land where land taxes have not been paid for decades, approvals for hill-side developments which caused death and destruction etc, etc.

Malaysia is a country run by corrupt officials who do not even pretend to be democratic anymore. It will very soon be on par with the likes of Indonesia or worse, Zimbabwe. There is no hope left.

All young Malaysians should get out if they can and all Malaysians living overseas would do well to spread the word about the evil BN government officials and ministers who steal taxpayers’ money through shady contracts.

They then run off to live in their fancy bungalows in Australia and other ‘Western’ places."

Anonymous said...

Tony, many if not most of the time, the flight delays have nothing to do with the airlines, but the airport.

Especially the airport the plane is coming from.

And I can say few of the world's airports are as good as Changi.

Anonymous said...

many other blogs coomented the complete silence on the Labu LCCT by DAP especially Lim Kt Siang. the Labu LCCT is against the wishes of Rakyat and seen as a project that will drain the tax payers money ultimately.

care to comment to dispel DAP in cohort with the UMNO cronies.

Anonymous said...

To delay by an hour is acceptable but to delay for more than 3 hours - it is half day or 1 day gone. Imagine, one has to be at the airport at least 2 hours. How about a trip to the airport - another 1 hours but anything can happen to the vehicle. So to be safe, you started your journey early. ie 4 hours before departure. If the plane is delayed by 3 hours it means 1/day is gone!!!! Try catching Air Asia in Bangkok. Note the traffic jam.

As for the terminal, KLIA is a white elephant- souless and looks like a motuary as compare to Changi or bankok airport which is full of life even late night. There is nothing and things are not really cheap. I tried to buy a chinese medical wine, the price difference is on $10.00

So KLIA is be fully utilised and only runways to be added or an extension building.

Anonymous said...

Yes! KLIA now looks like a dead airport. No activity, no brisk crowd movement.
We should all return to former subang airport and convert KLIA into pasar malam

Anonymous said...

To all those who don't like Air Asia.. Don't fly with them then!

Pay more to fly with MAS or SIA lah.

Why complain so damn much? Fernandes owe you is it?

Why don't you start your own damn airline while saddled with unfair practises and insane competition?

Even Singapore's low-cost airlines like Tiger Air, or Valuair etc can't compete.

Anonymous said...

All the harsh whiners should watch this video for PERSPECTIVE:

The harsh whiners are the same people who gladly suffer 50 years of crappy government, but complain to newly-elected fresh faces about a longkong not cleared fast enough.

The same people who complain about occasional 1-hour delays while paying peanuts for their airfare, but no brain to complain properly about shitload of problems with their over-priced, over-taxed Protons.

The same people who complain, complain about little charity golf games, while letting other people screw their pockets dry with BILLION dollar ports, submarine, helicopter and highway deals.

Anonymous said...

I agree that air asia has been great for opening up passenger travel to a lot of people. my concern is that they dont have enough regulation to ensure that their service is up to scratch when dealing with complaints and problems. if the flight is on time or not cancelled, great. if not, you have to endure some poor service. it needs to be better. i still fly them though.