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Air traffic between India and Malaysia has spiked significantly within the last few years. Two Southeast carriers, AirAsia and Lion Group, are tapping the growth by introducing lows cost tickets and leveraging fifth freedom rights.
Under this right, an airline can fly passengers from its home country with a temporary halt at an international destination before flying them to another international destination. As a result, both AirAsia and Lion Group can offer low cost air-tickets while catering to the needs and requirements of multiple flyers at the same time.
Currently, AirAsia offers services between Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. The carrier is mostly using A330S operated by Indonesia AirAsia X. It is also planning to boost its capacity on the Kuala Lumpur-Kolkata route by implementing A320S from Indonesia AirAsia. On the other hand, Lion Group recently spread its wings to cover up the Chennai-Kuala Lumpur route by using 737-900ERs which is backed by Batik Air.
The number of people flying between India and Malaysia with AirAsia has spiked 20% to 20,000 weekly seat bookings. Lion Group has also witnessed a boost of around 30% to 11,000 weekly bookings.
Reportedly, this private airline growth has hurt Malaysian Airlines, which has lost traffic
Aviation analyst attribute the boost in air traffic between India and Malaysia to fifth freedom. Although these flights results in a long halt, they cut down the booking costs and allow lower prices.
National carriers, who operate under bilateral agreement, resent fifth freedom as giving unfair advantage to private airlines.
However, Devesh Agarwal, an aviation analyst, told the DNA, “There is tremendous demand for business and leisure travel between Malaysia and India. The airlines are just coming up with an ingenious way to deal with it.”