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Perspectives on the development of low cost airlines in South East Asia: Evidence from the regional press

Baum, T.G. and Kua, J. (2004) Perspectives on the development of low cost airlines in South East Asia: Evidence from the regional press. Current Issues in Tourism, 7 (3). pp. 262-276. ISSN 1368-3500

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Abstract

Low-cost airlines are seen by some as one of the best things that have happened within contemporary travel. The clever business idea of offering significantly lower prices by taking out all the extras in a short-haul flight, along with innovative cost-cutting measures, was successful in the USA as early as 1973 when South-west Airlines flew her first low-cost flight. This paper asks whether this scenario has potential in Southeast Asia. According to many analysts, the environment in South-east Asia is simply not suitable for budget carriers. Governments are still very protective of their flag-carriers, there is a lack of cheap, secondary airports, South-east Asians are not wealthy enough to fly, and other cost-cutting measures like Internet distribution cannot easily be replicated. This paper argues that the opposite is true. There might not be 'open-skies' in South-east Asia, but the governments appear willing to nurture low-cost airlines to coexist with their flag-carriers. The number of airports that could serve as gateways for these airlines is more numerous than expected. The South-east Asian population is getting wealthy enough to fly and there also exists a significant market if the low-cost carriers can take advantage of it.