AirAsia plans autumn launch of Bangladesh flights

DHAKA (XFNews-ASIA) - Malaysia's AirAsia said its new joint venture budget airline in Bangladesh will start flights in October by offering fares at least 40 pct below those of other carriers, an official said.

The company, which will team up with Bangladesh's East West Airlines to launch Air East Asia, plans to operate daily flights between the capital Dhaka to Chennai and Calcutta in India, as well as Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Air East Asia will be 49 pct owned by AirAsia, with the newly-formed East West Airlines taking a 51 pct share, East West chief executive officer Mujibul Haq told Agence France-Presse.

"The airline will be the first budget airline (in Bangladesh). There is a huge market for budget airlines in this region as an increasing number of people are travelling to and from Bangladesh," he said.

"The fares will be kept at at least 40 pct less than the normal fares," he added.

AirAsia and East West signed a memorandum of understanding last week in Kuala Lumpur and AirAsia's board is expected to approve the joint venture airline later next month.

Under the Bangladesh agreement, AirAsia will provide two brand new 180-seat Airbus A-320 aircraft to Air East Asia and also technical and management support, while East West will bear all local expenses, Haq said.

The airline also plans to fly to four major cities in Bangladesh.

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