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Air Asia has made Phuket a hub and is now chasing India's billions

MediaWATCH: 'Phuket Hub' Airline Chases India

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective, plus relevant reports from national and international media. Low-cost airline AirAsia launched a daily flight between Calcutta and Kuala Lumpur. ''Next year we are planning to launch flights from Calcutta to Bangkok and Phuket,'' said Kathleen Tan, the regional head (commercial) of AirAsia. The KL-based airline has nine hubs in south-east Asia, including Bangkok and Phuket. AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes says: ''The whole Indian sub-continent is going to be very exciting for AirAsia and the Malaysian tourism industry. By next year, (there will be) six routes from Malaysia to India and three via Thailand.'' Fernandes said India was a huge market with 1.1 billion people, a US$3.1 trillion economy and 20 potential airports. AirAsia plans to list on the Thai stock exchange and later on in Indonesia, Fernandes told the Business Times newspaper. ''The plan is to list AirAsia group in Thailand and later in Indonesia,'' he said ahead of the company's third-quarter earnings. Because divorce is considered shameful in India, only a few tour operators openly promote divorce tourism. Typically, a bickering couple is given an exotic paid-for holiday by a concerned parent or friend. Before leaving, the couple meets with the tour operator to settle the itinerary, unaware that one of the staff members is a counselor who subsequently shadows them on their trip, assisting with travel details while discreetly soothing ruffled feathers and offering marital advice when needed. Tourism Authority of Thailand has appointed a new governor after an 18-month search to fill the position. Suraphon Svetasreni is the new governor selected for a term of four years. Suraphon, 56, is presently the deputy governor for policy and planning and acting deputy governor for marketing communications. Google's new operating system, which is designed to bypass computer hard drives and work via the internet, got its first public preview this week. Chrome OS, due to be released in about a year, could pose the first real competition for Microsoft's and Apple's computer operating systems. Chrome's main difference is that applications and other materials that normally exist on hard drives will live online. The European Union says it finally has the answer to a question long attributed to former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger: who do I call if I want to call Europe? That answer is simple. The US secretary of state phones Catherine Ashton, 53, a British peer chosen as the foreign policy chief of the 27-nation bloc.

xinhua Ten ecstasy laboratories operated by local drug cartels were destroyed in one of Cambodia's most impenetrable jungle areas in the southwest Cardamom Mountains. The raid was carried out by an anti-drug task force led by Wildlife Alliance and in close cooperation with forest rangers from Cambodia's armed services and Ministry of Environment. David Wilson writes: Thailand lures more visitors than any other South-East Asian nation. No wonder. It marries hospitality with healthy, piquant food, hypnotic countryside, captivating temples and spooky ruined kingdoms. As one guidebook puts it, few countries are so ''well endowed''. There's just one catch. Everyone else knows. Some overrun resorts (hello, Phuket) resemble a Lucky Country colony called Bali. (Wilson goes on to list five less crowded alternative Thai destinations). In Singapore, only two people have openly declared their HIV status. Some forms of discrimination are obvious. People with Aids may lose their jobs, and no specific legislation redresses this discrimination. Some patients make journeys to buy cheaper generic medicine in Thailand. Meanwhile, the silence is still immense after years of public education.

Associated Press Malaysia has stepped up efforts to combat graft to maintain investor confidence as a survey showed the country's corruption ranking worsened this year, Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamad said. Malaysia fell to 56th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2009, compared to 47th last year. A UN commission issued a resolution expressing ''grave concern'' over widespread rights abuses in Myanmar and detention of political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The non-binding resolution was adopted 92-26, and the document ''strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar.'' At a time when many airlines are postponing costly deliveries of the jumbo-size Airbus A380, Air France is ready for liftoff. On Monday, it will be the first airline to offer trans-Atlantic flights between New York and Paris aboard the mammoth double-decker aircraft. With more than 500 seats, the airplane offers three cabin classes (first, business and economy), six bars where passengers may help themselves and 22 flight attendants. Twenty years ago Siamese crocodiles were declared extinct in the wild. However, in 2001 researchers discovered small populations of Siamese crocodiles in Cambodia. This month there was more good news. DNA tests on 69 crocodiles at a wildlife rescue center outside Phnom Penh found that 35 of them are purebred Siamese crocodiles. Indonesia has declared it won't be a dumping ground for refugees bound for Australia, as another group of asylum seekers was intercepted. With the four-week stand-off over the 78 Sri Lankans on board Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking at an end, Indonesia's foreign affairs minister said there was no deal with Australia on refugees. Manny Pacquiao returned to a hero's welcome in his native Philippines after taking the WBO welterweight title from Miguel Cotto on a 12th round technical knockout in Las Vegas. 'Pacman' has a fanatical following, further enhanced by his record breaking victory as he claimed his sixth world title at a different weight on Saturday night. Beer is the third-most-consumed liquid in the world (after water and tea), but not long ago it was still surprisingly hard to find a decent beer bar in Los Angeles. A handful of new beer bars, such as recently opened Stout in Hollywood and soon-to-open the Surly Goat in West Hollywood are making the city more amenable to suds sippers. Singapore moved up 11 slots to number 13 on FutureBrand's latest Country Brand Index, which ranks the world's top country brands. It also earned the titles of Best Country Brand for ''Shopping'' and ''Easist to Do Business In.''


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