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AirAsia Weighing the Value of Assigned Seating

Government Orders AirAsia to Assign Seats While Airline Claims Efficiency and Rapid Boarding Times will Suffer.

(7/26/2008) Indonesian AirAsia was recently scolded by the Director General of Civil Aviation, Tri S. Sunoko, who told the low cost airline to start assigning seat numbers on the airline's boarding passes. According to the Indonesian aviation official, the pre-assignment of seats is needed to help identify passengers in the event of an air accident.

The Marketing Director of Indonesia AirAsia, Widijasroro Nugroho, told Bisnis Indonesia, "we are ready to undertake seat assignment numbers, but are concerned that this move will create an added cost, while our concept is that of a low-cost airline."

While saying his Airline will follow the aviation rules of Indonesia, Nugroho pointed out that his airline was not alone in choosing not to assigned seat numbers on its aircraft. Among the airlines cited by Nugroho who do not assigned seating are Ryan Air, Easy Jet (Europe), Southwest Airlines and AirAsia affiliates in Malaysia and Thailand.

The Airline's marketing managers defended the "free-seating" approach, saying it allowed boarding to take place in just 25 minutes.

The airline also allows passengers to reserve their seat using the boarding express facility, provided at an additional charge.