KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia's chief executive officer hopes that the Transport Ministry will be more accommodative on its request for new route rights, following Singapore Airlines' announcement that it is launching a new budget carrier.
Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said yesterday that if the government continues to hold back new route approvals, Singapore will have an advantage to build a hub.
"The Transport Ministry must help us. If it does not give us route rights straight away, Singapore can do Jeddah, Beijing, Shanghai and again, Malaysia will lose out," he told reporters after the Investor Relations Awards presentation ceremony.
"Now that Singapore has both long-and short-haul airlines, they have the advantage in building a hub," he pointed out.
"We can compete with Singapore provided the Transport Ministry and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) support us," Fernandes said.
He added that while Changi Airport is expanding its budget terminal without the need to build aerobridges, MAHB on the other hand "keeps trying to talk to us about aerobridges".
Fernandes noted that aerobridges will only add cost to business and that it was without this facility that the budget airline managed to grow its fleet to 100 planes.
"We started this business and we know what we need," he said.
He added that AirAsia X is still waiting for the green light from the Transport Ministry to fly into Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka and Jeddah.
Fernandes said the announcement by Singapore Airlines should make Malaysia proud because "Singapore is copying us and we should not be afraid of them".
Singapore Airlines had said that its low-cost subsidiary will serve the mid- and long-haul segments, competing with other airlines like Qantas, Jetstar and AirAsia X.
The new entity will operate on twin-aisle, widebody aircraft, it said in a statement.