Competition is good, says AirAsia’s Fernandes

PUTRAJAYA: The airline industry is booming and with it comes more competition for the ones who have long dominated the market.

This, however, does not spook AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, who said he welcomed healthy competition.

“I have no problem with competition as long as it is fair competition because that makes us better.

“The consumers should have a choice. And if they want to fly an airline that is better than us, then we deserve to be kicked.

“If you want to be the best, you have to deal with competition,” said Fernandes at a press conference after taking part in a luncheon talk at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre today.

Among those who attended the talk were Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar

During his talk, Fernandes, who founded the award-winning low-cost carrier AirAsia, said obstacles were often a way to push forward.

To prove his point, Fernandes relayed the challenging time faced by the airline industry following the outbreak of the contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) disease in 2003.

“Malaysians were afraid to travel then, but we decided to give out 5,000 free seats and the public grabbed the opportunity to fly again.”

When asked for his advice to those who wished to attain success the way he did, Fernandes said: “You have to fight for what you believe in. You got to have a product that people believe in, and you have to be radical.

“You have to throw yourself into the blue ocean …, especially if we are going to compete with the rest of the world to move forward.”

More and more individuals have attempted to enter the airline market following Fernandes’ international success.

The most recent were Rayani Air and Monspace Sky Airlines. Both, however, experienced problems, with the former having its licence to fly suspended due to financial problems and the other accused of operating without a licence.