LANGKAWI: Budget airline AirAsia will set up its new base at the Langkawi International Airport in the next few months that will offer direct flights to destinations in ASEAN countries.
Its group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said it was a dream for AirAsia for a long time and was glad it finally happened.
"We hope to (start our base) in the next three to four months.
"We estimate we can put five planes here and would generate one to one-and-a-half million passengers very quickly which is unheard of in Langkawi," he said after Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai unveiled an exclusive aircraft livery on an Airbus A320 to commemorate Malaysian chairmanship of ASEAN at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition here yesterday.
He said the flights would be focusing on ASEAN capitals such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City including direct flights from Langkawi to China and India.
"Langkawi has a lot of potential with its ecotourism attractions. It should be as big as Bali or Phuket. Right now, AirAsia has a direct flight from Langkawi to Singapore daily," he said.
Fernandes added that the airline would receive incentives from the airport to start up the base.
With the Single Aviation Market or Open Skies set to be implemented this year, he said there was an urgent need for a common regulator to be established to ensure proper standards were implemented to promote travel within the region.
Liow said AirAsia had made Malaysia proud with the many awards it won.