Malaysia's low-cost AirAsia flies into Bangalore

In a heart-warming gesture, Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia launched its inaugural flight to Bangalore, carrying 15 children with congenital heart disease who need open heart surgery.

The children will undergo surgery at the Narayana Hrudayalaya Heart Institute in Bangalore, whose chief Dr Devi Shetty is a familiar name as he regularly performs such surgeries.

AirAsia group commercial regional head Kathleen Tan said the airline was excited about the launch, adding that the service was expected to promote medical tourism in India.

With this launch, Bangalore became the seventh destination for AirAsia in India after Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Tiruchi and Mumbai, the low-cost airline said in a statement.

''AirAsia will be operating its brand new Airbus A320 aircraft on the Kuala Lumpur-Bangalore route, with 100 per cent load on the inaugural flight. The sector is already witnessing a load factor of almost 85 per cent in the first few weeks,'' it said.

Headed by ethnic Indian Tony Fernandes, AirAsia sees a huge demand from the health sector, with patients seeking medical assistance from institutions based in Bangalore.

"The daily service is also expected to cater to significant traffic including business and leisure travellers and students to and from the technology hub in southern India," Tan said in Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia is offering fares as low as RM25 (Rs342) to those travelling from Bangalore as part of its recently-announced promotion of one million free seats.