AirAsia X has no qualms using bloodless prose when it comes to the Malaysian government blocking the carrier's application to fly to Sydney and other key routes, which the government interprets as a threat to AirAsia X competitor and national carrier Malaysia Airlines. "Minister of Transport says public will welcome having choice between LCC and full service airlines, will government really allow choice on routes?" AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani Tweeted last month.
Now AirAsia X has stepped up its lobbying to fly to Sydney with this prominent effort: painting the phrase 'Liberate Sydney. End the monopoly.' with a silhouette of the Sydney Opera House on its tenth and newest A330-300, 9M-XXG:
The slogan calls to mind Osman-Rani's Tweet from last month: "We...need to liberate Sydney from the cowardly forces of protectionism." X-ray x-ray golf was named "Southern Xcross" (a play on the carrier's name and Australian icon the Southern Cross) by the name-a-plane winner Kiven Cheung who fittingly is a Malaysian living in--you guessed it--Sydney. Osman-Rani says in a Tweet the aircraft is "dedicated to the Aussie spirit". Australia's national psyche must include endurance as Osman-Rani says of Sydney: "We will never give up!"
AirAsia X serves Australia's Gold Coast, Perth, and Melbourne but has not been granted rights to fly to Sydney, Australia's largest city, in over two years of trying.
In July 2009 AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani attended a Sydney aviation conference with the expectation to announce service to Sydney but was knocked back by the Malaysian government. Osman-Rani was back in Sydney this past July but once again empty-handed thanks the Malaysian government protecting MAS, which is so enamored a MAS 777 is depicted on the Malaysian 10 ringgit bank note.
Earlier in the year Osman-Rani pointed to research showing that AirAsia X helped grow traffic from Kuala Lumpur to Perth 66% and KL to Melbourne 48%. But traffic from KL to Sydney dropped 27% and approximately 80,000 Malaysians were flying to Sydney indirectly. "The number of Malaysians going to Sydney via Singapore is growing phenomenally, more than 15% per year," he told Travel Weekly on 28 April. "If you are trying to protect Malaysia Airlines, you are going to run out of excuses very soon."
Even if the excuses keep coming, now with 9M-XXG the pressure is on for all to see.
One hopes however he has more success than shareholder Sir Richard Branson did when Virgin Atlantic painted "No way BA/AA" on its aircraft:
Here's one last photo of XXG, this one showing the A330's name: