High minded fly Air Asia

Air Asia is a Malaysian low-cost airline which pioneered no-frills travelling in Asia when it was established in 1993. Although low-cost airlines operated successfully in Europe before this period, the general consensus was that it wouldn’t work with the Asian markets that were more inclined towards traditional ways of travel.

The company did struggle in the first few years of operations and in 2001 it was bought out by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes’s company, Tune Air Sdn Bhd for the token sum of one ringgit. He turned the company around completely and within two years it was recording a profit. He also managed to undercut the former monopoly of Malaysian Airlines with some cut-throat promotional fares.

Air Asia now operates over 200 flights a day to over 75 destinations. It covers both domestic and International routes, from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and other Asian countries to Australia and the UK. Its main base is KL but there are now affiliate airlines, Thai Air Asia and Indonesia Air Asia.

The differences between full-cost carriers and Air Asia are numerous, but one of the most obvious is the lack of included in-flight meals. The company saves a lot of money by not providing a full food service and instead offers ‘Snack Attack’ a buy on board programme offering food and drink for purchase.

It was the first airline company in Asia to provide unassigned seating, following the example of many low-cost airlines throughout Europe and the rest of the world. However this did prove to be unpopular with most Asian travelers and recently the company changed its policy and now assigns seats like the more traditional carriers.

It has marketed itself aggressively and now has a sponsorship deal with AT & T Williams. This means that Air Asia can reach a broader customer base by advertising at Grand Prix races, and it feels that Formula One provides an ideal platform for its campaign.

Perhaps surprisingly for a low-budget airline, Air Asia takes its environmental responsibility very seriously and are determined to play their part in reducing the effect of their operations on the environment. The Air Asia Airbus A320 has the fuel burn, noise footprint and carbon emissions of any aircraft in its class. Aircrafts also generally burn about 15 litres of fuel for every minute they spend idling on the ground. It takes approximately an hour for a full-service carrier to make a turnaround whereas Air Asia can do it in 25 minutes, minimising emissions.

It is also the first airline in Asia to offer ticketless travel which saves a lot of paper as people book either online or through a mobile phone. They also cut out unnecessary wastage by choosing not to hand out newspapers and free meals that might not be consumed or used.

Redundant weight on flights is reduced by encouraging passengers to pre-book meals, plan baggage check in and travel light. This also reduces fuel burn and carbon emissions. All the departments within the company have paper recycling facilities and employees are encouraged to reduce paper usage.

So next time you travel on Air Asia and secretly yearn for the services of a more up-market carrier, remind yourself that you are helping the environment and cutting down on wastage. You can also feel good about spending your money with a company that aims to turn a profit but also demonstrates clear corporate responsibility.