Your letters: Air Asia’s acquisition
Paper Edition | Page: 8
When I read that Air Asia would be coming to Indonesia via its acquisition of Batavia Air (July 31), I was delighted because I thought Air Asia would be bringing its excellent service standards to Indonesia.
Now, almost immediately, this proposed acquisition is being held under a cloud of uncertainty by various government agencies. Airlines are precious things to countries: they are potent national symbols and objects, yet they often lose money and therefore receive regular tax subsidies (protection from better competition), which often has the negative effect of prolonging bad service, bad management and high prices in the industry.
I think it is fantastic that countries have their own national airlines, but at what cost?
In my country Air Canada had a lousy reputation compared to other private sector airlines.
It was a money-losing political football kicked around for decades by political parties; the jingoistic argument often used was that “we can’t let American airlines dominate us”; workers received (no surprise here) higher wages than other carriers and quite nice pension packages compared to equal workers in the private sector airlines.
Of course, the proposed Air Asia acquisition of Batavia air should conform to the current laws of the land.
Seeing Indonesia included in such a well run and service-oriented company like Air Asia is no doubt setting off alarm bells in the offices of Indonesia’s other domestic airlines, many of which have less than glowing reputations - that is, if we are to believe the regular complaints from the public and the tragic history of the now-defunct Adam Air
I have only flown with Air Asia twice, and found their service to be excellent with on-time departures, even though their ticket purchasing website was a bit time-consuming to get through. And I disagree with their two-tier pricing model (paying online versus paying at the airport counter).
I have also flown with nearly all the domestic Indonesian carriers and generally found the prices and service rather good, except for the all-too-regular delays, and sometimes cruelly indifferent service from ticket counters.
The take-off delays (sometimes as long as three hours) were the most annoying aspect of the service, and more than once prompted me to switch to the more expensive Garuda, which had regular and on-time departures.
Let the facts speak for themselves: there are many airlines in the world I wouldn’t dream of using. Indonesia has a pretty good industry, but there’s lots of room for improvement.
The entrance of Air Asia into the Indonesian market should be welcomed at long last as a spur to the other domestic carriers to improve their business models and management.