Read these three news articles about budget airlines and check how well you understand.
India takes to the sky
The railway’s dominance of long-distance travel within India may soon be over. No-frills airline Spicejet is luring train passengers with ultra-low fares reminiscent of Ryanair’s aggressive marketing. The New Delhi-based company, which only started business in May 2005, is already expanding its fleet with a new order of Boeing 737s. The airline aims to compete with first class rail travel, and sold more than 37,000 tickets online on the first day of business.
Kingfisher airlines, owned by India’s beer baron Vijay Mallya, promises models working as flight attendants. Launched just weeks before Spicejet, Kingfisher is aiming slightly more upmarket, with inflight entertainment on every seat, and fine cuisine.
India’s pioneering budget carrier, Air Deccan, is going from strength to strength. Set up in 2003, it undercut existing fares by 50% and kick-started the growth of India’s domestic market.
No-frills air travel arrives in South-East Asia
A region where up until now national carriers have had virtual monopolies is opening up to the budget flight era. New airlines are using European style internet booking systems to offer tickets at prices unheard of before. Because the internet is not yet available throughout the region, tickets can also be bought through travel agents but under the same system – the earlier you book, the cheaper the ticket.
Air Asia is perhaps the most successful of the new airlines. Set up in 2001, the Kuala Lumpur-based business offers flights within Malaysia and to destinations in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Philippines.
Budget air travel is having a big impact in Cambodia. Without a main national carrier, Cambodia has an ‘open skies’ policy and is encouraging new airlines to boost tourism in the country. One company that has capitalised on this is Jet Star Asia, which has routes to the capital Phnom Penh and the tourist centre Siem Reap.
Europe’s budget airlines still buoyant
Soaring fuel costs have not prevented Dublin-based airline Ryanair from continuing with its ambitious plans for expansion, including establishing a major hub in Frankfurt, Germany. The other main player EasyJet, based in Luton, near London, is constantly adding new routes and registering record numbers of passengers. The collapse of EUjet in 2005 had many business analysts forecasting a downturn in the fortunes of budget airlines. But the doomed Kent-based carrier, which left over 5000 passengers stranded abroad when it went out of business, has not proved typical of the no-frills market.
Recent start-ups such as Barcelona-based Vueling are giving Spanish airline Iberia a major headache by slashing fares on routes within Europe. Iberia may soon be forced to concentrate on its South American routes and leave Europe to the budget carriers. Meanwhile the admission of new member states into the European Union has led to a boom in Central and Eastern European-based airlines. Sky Europe is one of the biggest. With bases in Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava, the company has expanded rapidly since starting up in 2002, and operates on 65 routes throughout Europe.
Now decide if these statements are true or false.
Develop your vocabulary of air travel.