Asian budget airlines and Global Nomads

March 1, 2007 at 1:27 pm 3 comments


Ju (MindShare, Regional) writes:

The Internet and digital media have created a social environment where information flows freely and fluidly across geographical boundaries. However, they are not the only drivers. The growth of low-cost airlines is set to become another factor that fuels this phenomenon. By offering mobility, budget airlines will be playing an important role in facilitating the cross-country exchange of information and content in an offline, organic manner.

The New Zealand Herald talks of how “Budget air fares make a reality of one Europe“, giving examples of how budget airlines “are drawing a new map of how people and money travel in Europe“.

Can the same happen to Asia? Or will regional geography even matter, in the long run?

After it transformed air travel in South East Asia, Air Asia is now driving the “worldwide trend for [budget airlines] to move towards a long haul, low cost model” with the launch of Air Asia X, its sister brand for transcontinental flights based on the same low cost principles.

From Newsweek’s “Low Cost, Long Hop” story:

Come July, Air Asia X plans to launch its inaugural service between Kuala Lumpur and the United Kingdom with roundtrip fares starting at around $80 for early bookings. The plan is a network of budget routes linking Asia to Europe and eventually North America. Nor is X the only budget carrier pushing the distance envelope. In October Oasis Hong Kong Airlines launched daily low-cost service to London, and over Christmas sold round-trip passages for as little as $300. Its twist on the model is a lavish business class with seats priced two-thirds lower than Hong Kong flagship Cathay Pacific. And it, too, plans new routes to Europe, the United States and Canada.

While this will touch the lives of many consumer classes, one that will surely be affected is the youth segment, with over one-quarter of all travellers classified in the youth market (ASEAN tourism ministers aim for more young travellers), and growth expectations at 20 to 30% annually (Youth is the key in tourism: forum).

Indeed, youth are well-equipped with the technological savvy that eases the pain of leisure traveling, from milking the Internet’s vast database to seek out new destinations and plan their travels and for online bookings, to using SMS and Internet cafes to keep in touch with families and friends (Today’s student traveler start younger and go further) is tracking all this, calling it the “Global Nomad Series” (try searching ‘global nomads’ there).

Since Asian youth are already taking advantage of the online world to connect to global movements like cosplay and sneaker culture, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine them doing the same thing with the budget airlines, using the cheaper air fares to help fuel their passions, connecting their online and offline worlds. In the future, maybe there will be more hard-core cosplayers flying over to the World Cosplay Summit‘s preliminary competition. Or more sneakerheads in Asia checking out the Sneaker Pimps World Tour.

From a social perspective, this implies that the transfer of trends will be catalyzed in terms of speed, breadth, depth, and local adaptation. To illustrate, look no further than Bangkok party organizer DudeSweet’s cult-like following of the London indie music scene and their interpretation of it into bands, parties, art events, CD’s, clothes, bars, and magazines.

Entry filed under: all asia, media general, trends, virtual worlds.

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