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Discount airlines in Asia

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Asian carriers have generally offered lower fares (and better service) than their European or American rivals. Now they are starting to catch the wave of discount airlines, pioneered in the US and Europe. In South-East Asia, an ASEAN-wide open skies agreement is in the works, but in the rest of the continent flights are still severely restricted by bilateral agreements.

Asian carriers are generally much cheaper than their American or European rivals, and there are some great bargains to be had. The low-cost airline industry in Asia is sure to boom in the coming years.

All fares quoted below are one-way (except where noted), include taxes and charges, and are widely available. Flight destinations may change and airlines may go bust without notice.

discount airlines in asia Travel Guide :

Discount airlines in Asia


China's first low-cost airline was launched in July 2005, and many seem set to follow. Internationally, you can already fly in from Singapore to Chengdu, Macau, Taipei and Xiamen the LCC way.

Discount airlines in Asia

Hong Kong Express

Hong Kong Express ( flies from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and Hangzhou, with more destinations planned.

Discount airlines in Asia

Spring Airlines

Spring Airlines ( (????) flies from its base in Shanghai to Yantai.

Discount airlines in Asia


India's airline market is rapidly liberalizing. Four domestic low-cost carriers have started operations and many more are on the horizon. In addition, Singaporean carrier Jetstar Asia has started international low-cost flights from Singapore to Calcutta and recently announced flights to Bangalore.

Discount airlines in Asia

Air Deccan

Air Deccan ( operate a domestic network in India. Their fares start from INR 500 (US$11.50). However, these prices often sell out several months in advance.

Discount airlines in Asia

Air India Express

Air India Express ( is the low-cost spinoff of state carrier Air India. The carrier currently operates flights to Middle Eastern destinations Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and SalalahSalalah.

Discount airlines in Asia

Kingfisher Airlines

Kingfisher Airlines (, run by beer and liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, promised models as flight attendants and in-flight entertainment in every seat. The airline currently flies from Bangalore to Delhi and Mumbai.

Discount airlines in Asia

Spice Jet

Spice Jet ( started operations in May 2005. The airline promises Everyday Spicy Fares for as low as INR 99.

Discount airlines in Asia


Japan's low-cost carriers have had a rocky ride.

Discount airlines in Asia

Air Do

Japan's first low-cost carrier, Hokkaido International Airlines ( flies from Tokyo to Sapporo, Asahikawa and Hakodate. It was absorbed by ANA in 2000 but continues operations.

Discount airlines in Asia

Skymark Airlines

Skymark Airlines ( flies from Tokyo to Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Tokushima, Kobe and Osaka (Kansai International Airport).

Discount airlines in Asia

Skynet Asia Airways

Skynet Asia Airways ( flies from Tokyo to Miyazaki, Kumamoto and Nagasaki.

Discount airlines in Asia


StarFlyer ( will fly between Tokyo and Kitakyushu (close to Fukuoka) starting in March 2006.

Discount airlines in Asia


South Korea's staid aviation scene was shaken up in 2005 when the first low-cost carrier started operation. (Needless to say, North Korea's aviation scene remains virtually non-existent.)

Discount airlines in Asia

Hansung Airlines

Hansung Airlines ( flies from CheongjuCheongju to Seoul and Jeju. Operations were suspended in December 2005, with flights planned to resume in late January 2006.

Discount airlines in Asia

Jeju Air

Jeju Air plans to start flights from the island of Jeju to various parts of Korea in 2006.

Discount airlines in Asia

Middle East

Discount airlines in Asia

Air Arabia

Air Arabia (, the largest LCC in the Middle East, are based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. A coach service connects Sharjah with Dubai for US$2.50. They fly to a variety of destinations in the Middle East, East Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. They operate a modern fleet. Their fares are often very good value, starting at 119 UAE dirhams (US$32) on some routes. They offer a connecting flight service.

They have just announced that they will be starting daily flights to Mumbai, India from the middle of March 2005.

Discount airlines in Asia

Atlas Blue

Atlas Blue ( flies from Marrakech and Agadir in Morocco to destinations around Europe (mostly France).

Discount airlines in Asia

Gulf Traveller

Gulf Traveller ( is the low-cost spinoff of Gulf Air, based in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Muscat (Oman).

Discount airlines in Asia


Menajet ( flies a limited network from Beirut, Lebanon.

Discount airlines in Asia

South-East Asia

South-East Asia has the most developed low cost carrier networks in Asia, with many operators and fierce competition. Note that at time of writing, Laos is not reachable by LCC.

Discount airlines in Asia

Air Asia

Malaysian airline Air Asia ( has the distinction of having been acquired for 1 ringgit (US $0.25), but they have now grown to the largest (and most profitable) operator in the region. Originally founded by government-owned conglomerate DRB-Hicom, the heavily indebted airline was purchased by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes's company Tune Air Sdn Bhd for the symbolic sum of one ringgit on December 2nd, 2001. They operate on the now-classic model — open seating, Internet/phone booking and no complimentary refreshments.

They have bases in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru (near Singapore), Bangkok and Jakarta, operating flights throughout Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, as well as Macau and Xiamen in China, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Hanoi in Vietnam, Manila in the Philippines and Singapore. They are currently eyeing Laos, India, and Sri Lanka for possible expansion.

Discount airlines in Asia

Asian Spirit

Asian Spirit ( flies domestic flights in the Philippines. This is a pretty good little airline in the Philippines.

Discount airlines in Asia

Cebu Pacific Air

Cebu Pacific ( flies primarily within the Philippines. Just recently started several international flights from Manila or Cebu to Hong Kong, Osaka, and Seoul. Further expansion is being planned that includes other South Asian or South East Asian Destinations, such as India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

Discount airlines in Asia

Jetstar Asia

Jetstar Asia ( is a Qantas-backed LCC currently flying from Singapore to Bangkok, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Manila, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Siem Reap, Taipei and Yangon. Just recently, they've added flights to Bangalore, their ambitious expansion plans include Hanoi and Mumbai. It recently took control of rival ValuAir (

Discount airlines in Asia

Indonesian Citilink

Indonesian Citilink ( operate a domestic route network in Indonesia. Fares start from 125,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($15). Warning: this subsidiary of Garuda Airline does not currently accept cr card purchases online or at its call center, requiring payment via a limited number of ATMs in Indonesia or directly at their office in Jakarta.

Discount airlines in Asia

Lion Air

Lion Air ( flies from Jakarta to domestic destinations and Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore.

Discount airlines in Asia

Nok Air

Thai Airlines' low-cost carrier spinoff Nok Air ( flies domestic flights in Thailand and is planned to expand overseas as well.

Discount airlines in Asia

Orient Thai

Orient Thai (, who also use the brand One-Two-GO, flies domestic flights in Thailand as well as international flights to Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Seoul from both Bangkok and Phuket.

Note: Even by low-cost carrier standards, Orient Thai's on-time record is notoriously poor and their planes, particularly the 747s, are old.

Discount airlines in Asia

Phuket Airlines

Phuket Airlines (' ambitious plans to offer international service to London and Amsterdam have hit some turbulence after safety problems grounded much of their aging fleet. As of August 2005, the company operates only a limited domestic network from Bangkok serving destinations outside the THAI network as well as flights to Yangon (Rangoon).

Discount airlines in Asia

South East Asian Airlines

Despite the grand name, South East Asian Airlines (' network is limited to domestic turboprop flights in the Philippines.

Discount airlines in Asia

Tiger Airways

Tiger Airways ( is a low-cost airline set up in Singapore jointly by Singapore Airlines and the people who started Ryanair. Services currently operate from Singapore to China (Macau), Indonesia (PadangPadang), Philippines (Manila), Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Krabi, Phuket), Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh), and they are starting flights to Australia, (Darwin) and adding a new destination in Vietnam (Danang). Fares start , for example at S$ 63 (roughly US$ 39) one way for Singapore - Bangkok.

Discount airlines in Asia


ValuAir ( is the first Singaporean low-cost airline, started in Singapore by ex-Singapore Airline workers. Unlike the competition, they offer a few frills like simple in-flight meals. They offer flights between their home base in Singapore and Jakarta and Surabaya only. (Previous services to Bangkok, Hong Kong have been shifted to JetStarAsia (, but for Denpasar (Bali), Perth, Xiamen, and Chengdu flights have been stopped.)

Discount airlines in Asia

See also

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