Air Asia was once so bankrupt that when CEO Tony Fernandes bought it, he got it for pocket change. It cost him, just over one US quarter in 2009! Mr Fenendaz has worked hard to re-invent the company so it is now one of the largest low-cost carriers in the world with 176 planes (mostly Airbus 320s with some Airbus 330s for long haul) and 168 destinations. AirAsia has been named as the world’s best low-cost carrier for eight years in a row including in the year 2016.
Now, the company has announced it has FAA permission to fly to any destination in the USA. Flights are expected to start with Honolulu and then they will add other US states.
They will use their AirAsia X Airbus A330-300s which crams in 365 economy seats and 12 “premium flatbeds,” a kind of low-cost business class. Everything on Air Asia costs extra: seat allocation, meals, comfort kits, entertainment and baggage. Fernandes is aiming to increase ancillary income by 20 percent to $US11 per passenger. Last year they reduced food prices on board resulting in higher turnover.
I am not an AirAsia fan. I have not had great expereinces with them. In fact my worst flight of 2016 was with AirAsia! I prefer EasyJet, Southwest (though they are increasingly less low cost) and even Jetstar as low cost carriers.
In addition, Air Asia’s safety ratings and safety attitudes leave me in dread. AirlineRatings.com gives:
- AirAsia X six out of a possible seven stars for safety
- AirAsia Indonesia: two stars
- AirAsia India: three stars
- AirAsia Malaysia: four stars
- AirAsia Zest (Philippines): three stars
- Thai AirAsia: two stars
In 2014, QZ850 (Air Asia Indonesia) crashed between Indonesia and Singapore. Air crash investigators found that a crack in a tiny electronic module caused the aeroplane’s rudder control system to send repeated warning alerts to the pilots. Their response resulted in the airbus stalling and crashing into the sea killing all 162 passengers and crew.
Air Asia has had great experience with the Australian to Asian long haul but it failed to make enough money on its London and Paris to Kuala Lumpur Services. They have said they will re-start the London services in 2018 using A330 neos. Be interesting to see if they can do better with the USA.
Where do you think Air Asia will fly to in the USA?
- Air Asia-My Worst Flight of 2016
- My 5th Dreamliner Flight: Jetstar “Business” to Singapore
- My 3rd (& 4th) 787 ScootBiz Bangkok -Singapore – Sydney