When budget airline EasyJet hit the scene in Europe in 1995, inspired by US success story Southwest Airlines, it was offering something pretty much alien to the Old World: affordable air travel and transparent fares for the masses. Eight years later, flying across Europe has become as ‘easy’ as getting on a bus, and formerly sleepy regions on the continent are blossoming because of ever-expanding flight schedules and new, regional hubs (see also our Trend Update at the bottom of this newsletter).

EasyJet’s owner, the EasyGroup, has since introduced EasyCar (taking on the outmoded world of car rentals) and is developing a concept that aims to do the same for cinemas (EasyCinema). The formula appeals to something most consumers appreciate: reliable quality, standardized convenience and low-as-you-can-go prices. The latter is achieved by making optimal use of the Internet as a sales and service tool, cutting the frills, and standardizing to the max.

With Americans having been at the forefront of ‘easy’ concepts, and European crowds now happily buying into them as well, the masses in Asia will probably be next. In fact, as many nations in Asia now boast emerging but solid middle classes, EASY-ASIA concepts should be hugely popular. Yes, rules and regulations might stifle innovation and entrepreneurship in certain parts of Asia, but Europe was equally restrictive only a dozen years or so ago (you couldn’t get a carton of milk between Saturday evening and Monday afternoon in most European capitals!).

There are definite signs that the mighty Australasian continent is already warming up to EASY-ASIA concepts: both Malaysian airline AirAsia and Australian Virgin Blue are taking off. Their success is mainly rooted in their domestic markets, but Virgin Blue, which was launched in 2000, has also expressed interest in expanding its network to the Pacific and South East Asia. In Thailand, prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called for a new low-cost airline that will operate from the northern capital, Chiang Mai, and that will act as a hub for travelers in the Mekong region and in Southwest China (source: FT). One day, Asians will have it easy too.

Note: for those who don’t live or do business in Asia -- no worries. There are plenty of ‘Easy’ business categories left in the US, Europe and South America that will entice consumers to buy more, and more frequently. Take one look at the rate cards of ‘traditional’ hotel chains, and the word ‘EasyDorm’ takes on a magic ring, whether you’re in Tokyo, Singapore, New York, Berlin or Rio! You’ll have to move quickly, though, because EasyGroup is about to add this sector to its portfolio as well.


| This trend is taking off fast with Malaysia's budget airline AirAsia recently announcing a fleet expansion (aiming for 18 planes one year from now), while Singapore Airlines unveiled plans to start its own, still unnamed low-cost carrier. Which is not to be confused with ValueAir, recently registered by Singapore Airline's former managing director. Further down south, Virgin Blue, an Australian EasyJet clone, is eying international routes to Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu. (Source: Wall Street Journal, Financial Times.)

With low-cost airlines preparing for an EASY ASIA revolution, everything from increased tourism to opening up under-served business regions is now a possiblity. Check out the entire EASY ASIA description, as well as our FLORIDASATION trend, and dream up new business for what is in many ways the most exciting business region in the world. More to follow on this one in future editions.

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