AirAsia's transit travellers may soon get easier time at Changi

AirAsia's transit travellers may soon get easier time at Changi
Travellers at Changi Airport Terminal 2

Changi Airport's hub status could get a significant lift with the region's biggest budget carrier looking to make it more convenient for travellers in transit.

Malaysia's AirAsia, which also has Jakarta-based AirAsia Indonesia and Thai AirAsia that fly here, is looking to grow its business by making it more convenient for travellers to switch planes.

Currently, a traveller who flies to Changi Airport on one AirAsia flight and wants to connect to another has to collect his bags, clear immigration and check-in again.

"It can be quite a hassle for passengers," the airline's Singapore chief, Logan Velaitham, told The Straits Times.

"We are now exploring the possibility of through check-in for traveller comfort and convenience, which we believe is what a growing number of budget passengers are looking for. This will allow us to offer a more valuable proposition for our customers, which is not only good for us but Changi Airport as well," he said.

Mr Velaitham added: "Having built up a critical mass of traffic to and from Singapore, which is a key market for AirAsia, we believe it is the right time to take our business to the next phase."

The airline currently operates more than 40 flights a day to Singapore, out of Changi Airport's Terminal 1.

If the plans work out, Singapore will be the only destination outside AirAsia's home bases where the service is available to travellers.

AirAsia has already done this successfully out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the last few years with the group's long-haul arm, AirAsia X.

As competition intensifies, low-cost carriers, which started off offering just point-to-point flights, have been adding services including facilitating transfers for their passengers.

Tigerair, for example, which is more than half owned by Singapore Airlines (SIA), is working closely with SIA's long-haul budget arm, Scoot, to drive connecting traffic through Changi Airport.

This includes coordinating flight timings to cut waiting times.

A cut in fees for transit passengers at Changi Airport from $9 to $3 from next month should also help stimulate stopover traffic, said aviation analyst Brendan Sobie from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Ivan Tan, spokesman for Changi Airport Group, said that the airport welcomes AirAsia's plans to strengthen its presence here by growing its traffic and network, and will work with the airline to support its plans.

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