Asia’s biggest budget carrier AirAsia Berhad, unveiled yesterday at the Villamore Air Base near Manilla, Philippines, its second ASEAN-themed aircraft. The aircraft is sporting a livery showcasing designs inspired by art, nature and architecture of all 10 ASEAN nations and bears the tagline “I Love ASEAN”.
As part of AirAsia’s campaign to boost its brand identity in the region, the entire fleet across AirAsia Group, so not just Malaysia, but also Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, will all bear the ASEAN symbol – red circle with 11 rice stalks in the middle.
In other words, more than 200 aircrafts will carry the emblem of ASEAN, including 30 A330-300s and 172 A320s.
That’s not all. Even Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s boss, will take off his iconic red AirAsia baseball cap for a new one with “ASEAN United” written on it.
Mr. Fernandes said at a press briefing that AirAsia’s goal is to become a single regional airline group and this exercise is a big part of this.
However, Fernandes is not blind to the challenges ahead of AirAsia. First, he needs to persuade ASEAN leaders to let go of their outdated foreign-ownership limits on their airlines.
He said in June:
We are pushing Asean governments to say that we want to invest more in Asean, and these old-fashioned rules of owning 49% [or less] need to be looked at.
Yesterday, AirAsia’s boss said:
My ultimate dream is to create an Asean holding company that fully owns all the airlines, flying the Asean flag, and will be much more efficient. We start with products from countries we know best: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
AirAsia Adds More Flights to China
At the same time as the group is looking to increase its brand in ASEAN, it is also expanding its presence in China with more flights from November this year until early 2018.
AirAsia will add three flights per week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday by 2nd March 2018.
This will increase flight frequency from 14 to 17 per week on its service from Kuala Lumpur to Manila. In addition, AirAsia X will increase frequencies to Xi’an and Hangzhou in China from four weekly to daily for Xi’an and to six for Hangzhou.