Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flying AirAsia to Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Petronas Tower at Night
The iconic Petronas Twin Towers -- resplendent at night
 After weeks of typhoons and monsoon rains, the window of good weather and should I say, good breaks, held sway for the past two weekends.. The better to enjoy an a surprise trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on a familiarization tour courtesy of AirAsia Philippines and Tourism Malaysia. It's quite a whirlwind of a trip, the itinerary packed for the extended weekend but exciting nonetheless. 

The hectic sked aside, we got to visit the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, until 2003 the world's tallest buildings, not just once but twice. We were billeted at the ParkRoyal Hotel along Jalan Sultan Ismail near Bukit Bintang and the towers were just 10-12 minutes away by foot.  That  we stayed very near the malls, especially Low Yat Plaza, was a tempting cause for dropping by for a look-see of the low-priced electronics on offer, but that's an altogether different story. 
Malaysia - AirAsia LCCT office wall milestones
AirAsia premises within LCCT
First stop, the LCCT.  The first order of the day was acquainting ourselves with the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and AirAsia Academy. The LCCT, which was built in 2006, forms an important part of the airline's low cost, no-frills business model which enables AirAsia to offer truly low fares. Located 20 kms away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and 60 kms from the city proper, the LCCT is a very busy hub currently handling 10 million passengers every year and is being expanded to handle up to 15 million. 

Going around the AirAsia offices within the LCCT, we saw a vibrant and dynamic workplace, the walls splashed with larger-than-life timelines and murals of the airline's many endeavors including motorsports and basketball (ABL), among many others. With the recent establishment of AirAsia Philippines, it is only natural to aspire to achieve the vibrancy and vivacity of LCCT for the Clark hub in Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. We even dropped by founder, Tony Fernandes', corner office which is as casual as casual can be with a floor-to-ceiling wall of baseball caps and beanbag on the floor. Our short talk with Regional Head of Customer Experience, Zaman Ahmad,was revealing as he intimated that the airlines is establishing its ASEAN office in Jakarta to make it an Asian airline instead of being a Malaysian brand and that perhaps, as a sign of the times, he said that more and more business people are flying with AirAsia. 
Malaysia - AirAsia Academy Skylight and Seal
AirAsia Academy Seal
Next stop, the AirAsia Academy. It was a bit late in the workday and rainclouds were roiling in the horizon but the tour around the Academy was an interesting one. AirAsia may be the acknowledged leader in low cost travel but it certainly spared no expense in making a model facility. Located at the Southern Support Zone of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, the facility covers every facet of the airline business -- from flight training right down to grooming.  This is where all the Filipino pilots, cabin and ground crew of AirAsia Philippines train.  It was not hard to be impressed with the bank of flying simulators on motion platform. We tried flying and landing on one of these US$7 million contraptions, an A320 simulator, and had a blast even if we came nowhere to bringing the craft to a safe take-off and landing. 
Malaysia - AirAsia Simulators Area
Simulators on motion platform
Next: Go-kart racing at Sepang, strolling in the park and chilling out at 33-storeys


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