AirAsia took delivery today of its 50th aircraft, an impressive accomplishment given the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier is only five years old.
The carrier, which pioneered low fares in Southeast Asia, says with the 50th aircraft it will embark on the second chapter of its amazing story. In the second chapter, AirAsia promises to "strengthen and enhance its route network by connecting all the existing cities in the region and expanding further into Indo China, Indonesia, Southern China and India".
The carrier launched with a hub in Kuala Lumpur and has since added hubs in Bangkok and Jakarta with affiliates Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia. It also has added three hubs in Malaysia - Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. The latter two opened this year after a landmark deal with the Malaysian government which saw its main competitor, Malaysian Airlines, withdrawing from most domestic routes. The two continue to compete on major trunk routes.
AirAsia says its second chapter will also include new training and maintenance facilities plus new ecommerce initiatives. The carrier will soon introduce web and PDA check-in services.
"The past five years has been a blast," says AirAsia's flamboyant chief executive, Tony Fernandes (pictured below). "Our growth from 2 to 50 planes is a testament that we have a winning product - low fares and quality flying experience."
AirAsia now has a fleet of 15 A320s - the 15th A320 arrived today in Kuala Lumpur - and 35 Boeing 737-300s. It has another 85 A320s on order which will be used to replace the 737-300s and provide another 50 growth aircraft that will allow AirAsia to hit the 100 aircraft mark in 2011. AirAsia should reach the current size of Easyjet and Ryanair in 2012.
AirAsia already operates 300 flights per day on 70 routes across 10 countries. It has already carried more than 26 million passengers since launching in December 2001 and expects to carry another 18 million passengers in 2007.