Budget travellers in Singapore can now chalk up miles more easily to redeem free flights on Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia.
The group is partnering corporate giants DBS Bank and StarHub for passengers to earn points to use in its customer rewards programme here.
The scheme is open to anyone who flies the airline, 4.5 million DBS card customers and millions more who subscribe to StarHub's mobile and other services.
For example, a Singapore-Kuala Lumpur ticket, excluding taxes and surcharges, is worth about 2,000 points or $750 spent on StarHub. This works out to less than 40 cents per point.
A similar flight on a full-service carrier would require about three times more points, AirAsia said. Fewer points will be needed for promotional fares, the airline said.
AirAsia first launched the programme in Malaysia in November 2011 and has extended it to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
AirAsia's group chief executive Tony Fernandes is confident the programme will give the airline an edge over rival carriers like "pussy cat airways and the junior wallaby" he said, in an obvious reference to Tigerair and Australia's Jetstar group.
The rewards programme will also give full-service airlines a run for their money, he said.
Mr Logan Velaitham, head of AirAsia Singapore, said: "This will definitely raise the eyebrows of full-service carriers.
"We are giving customers more value and are confident this will help grow our pool of corporate customers."
Industry experts said low-cost carriers that started out offering no-frills point-to-point flights are increasingly moving into the turf of full-service airlines.
For example, Tigerair has a tie-up with long-haul budget carrier Scoot, which offers baggage transfers for passengers with connecting flights.
This gives travellers greater convenience, making Tigerair an attractive option.
Mr Brendan Sobie, a Singapore-based analyst at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said low-cost carriers "have started to realise" that frequent flier programmes can help create loyalty and drive more business.
He expects more budget carriers to follow AirAsia's lead.
Meanwhile, Jetstar Asia and Singapore Airlines, which faces competition from all quarters, did not comment directly on AirAsia's move but said they would focus on improving quality in their own products.
AirAsia will continue to compete strongly in Singapore despite infrastructure and air traffic constraints that can get in the way of mounting new and more flights, Mr Fernandes said.
The group, which includes AirAsia Indonesia and Thai AirAsia, currently has about a quarter of Changi's low-cost passenger traffic, he said.
Part-time tutor Angie Lim, 23, said: "The travel market in Singapore has become more exciting and dynamic with many more airlines flying here, which means cheaper fares and more destinations for us to explore.
"With AirAsia's loyalty programme, I may be more inclined to fly them if it means even better deals."
- The scheme is open to anyone who flies the airline, 4.5 million DBS card customers and millions more who subscribe to StarHub's mobile and other services.
- AirAsia first launched the programme in Malaysia in November 2011 and has extended it to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.