HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

AirAsia captures market leadership award

Skålleagues unite in Thailand

“Nok Hunt 2005 – The New Generation” staff recruitment

International Dive Expo looking for virgin divers

China Airlines takes over Taipei–Chiang Mai connection

Space travel for US$12,000

AirAsia captures market leadership award

AirAsia captured the prestigious Market Leadership Award at the recent 2005 Airline Achievement Awards given out by Air Transport World (ATW) Magazine. The awards ceremony held in Washington, DC, is a coveted annual event to recognize excellence in the airline industry. Other notable winners this year were Air France – KLM Group (ATW Airline of The Year), and Virgin Atlantic Airways (Passenger Service Award.

AirAsia was named Asia Pacific Low Cost Airline of the Year 2004 by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). AirAsia also received the Euromoney award for Asia Best Managed Company in the Airlines and Aviation Sector

AirAsia’s award lets it join an alumnus of luminaries such as Virgin (1998), Ryan Air (2000), and Jet Blue (2002), all previous winners of the ATW Market Leadership Award.

One of the only two Asian based airlines to be recognized in the history of the Awards, Jet Airways being the other, AirAsia has come a long way from its humble beginnings three years ago as a start up low cost carrier in Malaysia operating with just 2 Boeing 737-300s.

Today, AirAsia commands a fleet of 28 Boeing 737-300s, and operates over 100 daily flights from its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Bangkok, and Jakarta. In its bid to offer low fares to the people and to integrate ASEAN, AirAsia spread its wings to neighboring Thailand and Indonesia through the strategic formation of Thai AirAsia (Thailand), and AWAIR (Indonesia), both of which are joint ventures with local entities.

Skålleagues unite in Thailand

Jeremy Colson, TTG

SKAL International has made a plea for members throughout the world to attend the 34th Asia Area Assembly of Skål in Thailand from May 20 to 23.

Northern Skålleagues met earlier this year here in Chiang Mai.

The event has special significance this year because it is being held in Phuket, the media communications center, from which so much of the early coverage of the December 26 tsunami was broadcast.

Event organizer, Martin van der Reijden, said he hoped the assembly would serve as a rallying point. “We urge members from around the world to come to the assembly and then, when they return home they will be able to tell their colleagues that Phuket really is ready for visitors,” he said.

“I believe the assembly will help kick start the revival we are all praying for,” he added. Skålleagues wanting more details about the event can consult the Skål Phuket website:

“Nok Hunt 2005 – The New Generation” staff recruitment

Nok Air, embarked on an innovative recruitment activity with the launch of “Nok Hunt 2005 – The New Generation”, a further search for Nok Air’s flight attendants.

Nok Air’s CEO Patee Sarasin, wearing his appropriate bird outfit, in full motivational swing.

Patee Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air said, “Nok Hunt 2005 – The New Generation enables us to find air hostesses who have all the attributes and the special personalities we are looking for, and in a totally different way from what has been done before.”

Flight attendant hopefuls had to be assessed at four different checkpoints with various scenarios testing their service mindedness, ability to work under pressure physically and emotionally, their ability to solve problems, and their teamwork and leadership skills. There were hidden cameras and mystery judges at all checkpoints. Their scores were based not only on how well they perform but also on how they interacted with one another. At the end of the day, 40 candidates were selected to become Nok Air hostesses.

Nok Air has two daily flights to Phuket, as well as five daily flights to Chiang Mai, three daily flights to Udon Thani and Hat Yai, and one daily flight to Phitsanulok, with further Thai and regional destinations to be added later in the year.

International Dive Expo looking for virgin divers

Organisers of Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) 2005 and Virgin Radio Thailand have teamed up in a search for up to 1,000 “Virgin Divers” who are willing to take their first scuba plunge during the international dive show at the Bangkok Convention Center, from March 31 – April 3.

The “My Virgin Dive with the Asia Scuba Tour” will be held in conjunction with ADEX 2005, where first-time divers are invited to suit up and become part of the fast-growing and exciting dive community.

Full scuba gear, including a wet suit, BCD vest, air tank, mask and snorkel, will be loaned to each virgin diver for the dive. This tryout is free, and the international dive association, PADI, will be on hand to officially certify the experience.

After a thorough instructional briefing and safety review from a professionally certified dive instructor, the virgin diver and instructor will submerge in a pool located next to the main exhibition hall.

Virgin Radio is planning to have some thrill-seeking celebrities on hand to enjoy their first dive experience and help promote the campaign.

ADEX sponsor, Sony will capture each virgin diver in action, and present them with a color photo of their first dive experience. The first 100 divers will also receive a special package of goodies from Virgin Radio, and Swatch will be giving out a free Swatch SCUBA watch for every 50th diver.

Roel van Leeuwen, director of Suntec Integrated Media, ADEX 2005’s organizer, said, “We’re hoping to have more than 1,000 virgin divers participate, which would be a record number for Asia scuba Tour program.”

For more information, visit or call +65 6825 2289 or +65 6825 2258.

ADEX 2005 will be open on March 31 to trade visitors only, and April 1-3 to the public from 11am-7pm.

China Airlines takes over Taipei–Chiang Mai connection

Jeffrey Studebaker, TTG

China Airlines will inaugurate its third direct service to a destination in Thailand when it takes over a Taipei–Chiang Mai route from subsidiary, Mandarin Airlines, on March 29.

The service will be operated with a Boeing B737-800 thrice weekly on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Bangkok assistant general manager marketing, Teerasak Saejeng, said while the route was not profitable under Mandarin Airlines, China Airline’s industry clout would make a difference. “China Airlines has a long history and solid reputation in the Taiwan market and this will give us an advantage in negotiating for special rate agreements with other airlines,” he said.

To inaugurate the service, China Airlines will offer four package tours to Chiang Mai and northern Thailand with prices starting at USD 420.

Space travel for US$12,000

Space tourism has officially landed in China, Hong Kong Space Tours Corporation CEO, Jiang Fang, announced at a recent press conference in Shenzhen. The Hong Kong-based company and US firm, Space Adventures, signed a contract to recruit Chinese tourists for adventures in space.

Four programs are being offered: zero-gravity training, fighter-plane training, sub-orbit flight, and space orbit tour. Prices for the different packages range from RMB 100,000 (US$12,048) to US$20 million. A Space Adventures spokesman told Chinese newspapers a man surnamed Jiang from Shenzhen had already paid a deposit of RMB 1 million for a sub-orbital flight. He is expected to embark on his zero-gravity joyride to the edge of outer space for a bird’s eye view of the earth in 2006 “if all goes well”.

Besides having deep pockets, those interested in signing up must be above 18 and in good health. Trips last about seven days and tourists will only be launched into space after receiving several months of training. (TTG Asia)