AirAsia Berhad is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. AirAsia group operates scheduled domestic and international flights to 100 destinations spanning 22 countries. Its main hub is klia2, the low-cost carrier terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia: all its Kuala Lumpur departures and arrivals operate through this terminal. Its affiliate airlines Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia, AirAsia Zest, and AirAsia India have hubs in Don Mueang International Airport, Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and Kempegowda International Airport respectively, while its subsidiary, AirAsia X, focuses on long-haul routes. AirAsia’s registered office is in Petaling Jaya, Selangor while its head office is at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
AirAsia operates with the world’s lowest unit cost of US$0.023 per available seat kilometres (ASK) and a passenger break-even load factor of 52%. It has hedged 100% of its fuel requirements for the next three years, achieves an aircraft turnaround time of 25 minutes, has a crew productivity level that is triple that of Malaysia Airlines, and achieves an average aircraft utilisation rate of 13 hours a day. In 2007 Joshua Kurlantzick of The New York Times described the airline as a “pioneer” of low-cost travel in Asia. AirAsia is the sponsor of Malaysia national football team, Singapore national football team and Queens Park Rangers. AirAsia is also a former sponsor of Manchester United.
AirAsia was established in 1994 and began operations on 18 November 1996. It was founded by a government-owned conglomerate, DRB-Hicom. On 2 December 2001, the heavily-indebted airline was bought by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes’ company Tune Air Sdn Bhd for the token sum of one ringgit (about USD 0.26 at the time) with USD 11 million (MYR 40 million) worth of debts. Fernandes turned the company around, producing a profit in 2002 and launching new routes from its hub in Kuala Lumpur, undercutting former monopoly operator Malaysia Airlines with promotional fares as low as MYR 1 (US$0.27). In 2003, AirAsia opened a second hub at Senai International Airport in Johor Bahru near Singapore and launched its first international flight to Bangkok.
AirAsia subsequently started its Thai AirAsia affiliate, and began flights to Singapore and Indonesia. Flights to Macau started in June 2004, and flights to mainland China (Xiamen) and the Philippines (Manila) in April 2005. Flights to Vietnam and Cambodia followed in 2005 and to Brunei and Myanmar in 2006, the latter by Thai AirAsia. In August 2006, AirAsia took over Malaysia Airlines’s Rural Air Service routes in Sabah and Sarawak, operating under the FlyAsianXpress brand. The routes were returned to MASwings a year later, citing commercial reasons.
At the end of 2006, Fernandes unveiled a five-year plan to further enhance AirAsia’s presence in Asia. Under the plan, AirAsia proposed enhancing its route network by connecting all of its existing destinations throughout the region and expanding further into Vietnam, Indonesia, Southern China (Kunming, Xiamen, Shenzhen) and India. Through its sister companies, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia, the plan called for a focus on developing its hub in Bangkok and Jakarta. With increased frequency and the addition of new routes, AirAsia increased passenger volume to 13.9 million in its 2007 fiscal year.
During 2007, passengers from “The Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group” protested against the airline over its refusal to fly passengers who were completely immobile. They claimed that people with disabilities were discriminated against when booking tickets online; the CEO of the airline said it did not turn away wheelchair-bound passengers.
An AirAsia A320 with the Malaysian flag on the tail and Cartoon drawings on the fuselage.
On 27 September 2008, the company announced 106 new routes to be added to its list of 60. The number of old routes discontinued has not been disclosed.
In August 2011, AirAsia agreed to form an alliance with Malaysia Airlines by means of a share swap. The alliance was struck down by the Malaysian government, in effect voiding the agreement of both airlines.
The Airbus A320 family consists of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger twin-engine jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. The family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, as well as the ACJ business jet. The A320s are also named A320ceo (current engine option) after the introduction of the A320neo.