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AirAsia is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. It operates domestic and international flights to all major Asian cities, well over a hundred in total. AirAsia is the pioneer of low-cost airlines in Asia and has managed to get the lowest cost per seat kilometer ($0.023) in the world.
AirAsia has become a group of airlines all operating under the brand AirAsia but several subsidiaries are in fact minority-owned. This is due to the fact that in several countries a foreign party is not allowed to own a domestic airline. As of today AirAsia has these affiliate airlines: AirAsia India (49%) AirAsia X (16% although Tony Fernandes holds a significant share as well), Indonesia AirAsia (49%), Philippine AirAsia (40%), AirAsia Zest (49%), Thai AirAsia (45%).
AirAsia operates a total of close to 200 aircraft (as of 2016) of these only 90 are operated by AirAsia itself and the majority of the airplanes are operated by airlines in the AirAsia Group in which AirAsia itself has a minority share and limited influence on management. As of this, there can be significant differences between the airlines: Indonesia AirAsia has an abominable on time record (also due to congestian at Jakarta's main airport) while Thai AirAsia is second best in Asia with 96% on time performance.
AirAsia flies to over 98 destinations. Most AirAsia flights are for destinations in Malaysia but AirAsia has international flights to several other countries as well, like for example Indonesia and China. From its main base in Kuala Lumpur 223 flights depart every week. Many people who look for AirAsia tickets look for flights to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
Utiket is a good place to start looking for AirAsia flights as we can compare all flights by AirAsia with hundreds of other airlines and dozens of booking websites.
AirAsia has a strict baggage policy in which checked baggage is not included in the ticket price and you are allowed to take 7kg in to the cabin for free (bag must not be bigger than 56cm x 36cm x 23cm). For any checked baggage you have to pay extra and the baggage cost can become a significant part of the final ticket price.
For some reason there is on exception on domestic Indonesian flights. On these AirAsia flights you are obliged to pay for at least 15kg checked baggage, even if you do not want to carry checked-baggage.
The enforcement of the cabin baggage rules (size and weight) varies. Sometimes they'll weight and measure every bag upon check-in or at the gate while another time you see passengers carry huge suitcases as carry-on luggage without any comments from the AirAsia staff. So, it depends. If your bag is checked and found too heavy there are two things you can do: pay a fine or take things out. The thing is, they only check your bag, not what you carry on your body. So, put on all the sweaters and jackets you have and take out small but heavy items like camera's or books as you can easily put these in pockets of your jeans or jackets. With this you can save valuable kilograms in your bag-pack.
AirAsia maintains a struct no-refund policy on all its flights and flight classes. There is one exception though, flights departing from South Korea: after the government intervened AirAsia now has a partial refund policy for flights departing from South Korea.
Changing an already booked ticket is allowed in certain circumstances. A change in route is not allowed as is any change to the flight within 48 hours of the departure. Changing the passenger name is allowed up to 6 hours before departure time. For all changes a fee has to be payed for the change to take effect.
AirAsia has fees for several services that are mostly free on other airlines, although it claims 'No Admin Fee', that's probably the only fee they have not included. AirAsia has currently these fees which will be added to the base ticket price:
In every major country AirAsia has flights to, it also operates a call center. Here are some of the important AirAsia call-center numbers:
China: +86 512 8555 7711
Hong Kong: +852 3013 5060
Indonesia: +62 21 2927 0999 or +62 804 1333 333
India: 1860 500 8000
Malaysia (AirAsia X D7 flights only): 1600 85 8888
Philippines: +632 722 2742
Thailand: +66 2 515 9999
AirAsia uses the new KLIA2 low-cost carrier terminal for all its flights from Kuala Lumpur. The KLIA2 replaced the old KLIA-LCC terminal.
Although AirAsia used the older Terminals 1 and 2 before, since several years all AirAsia flights, domestic and international, depart from the new Terminal 3 (T3). Be aware though that since 11 august 2016 all Airasia flights temporary depart from terminal 2E and 2F due to renovation works at Terminal 3.
AirAsia flights from Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport depart from Terminal 2.
In Singapore AirAsia does not use the available low-cost terminal; all AirAsia flights from Singapore arrive and depart from Terminal 1.
In Manila's NAIA Airport (MNL) AirAsia uses two terminals: 3 and 4. Terminal 3 is for flights to international destinations (Hong Kong, Incheon, Kota Kinabalu, Macau and KUL), while Terminal 4 is for domestic destinations only.
AirAsia was founded by a government-owned conglomerate in 1993 and started operating a few years later. It incurred heavy losses though and only five years later former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes could buy the complete airline for the token sum of one ringgit (about 25 dollar cents). It also included $ 11 million in debt though. Mr. Fernande quickly turned things around with many new routes, cheap fares and rigorously cutting costs. AirAsia made a profit the next year. From that moment on AirAsia was unstoppable and opened up new destinations monthly, within Malaysia but also internationally: Bangkok (2003) Macau (2004), China, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (2005) so that by 2006 AirAsia flew to 60 destinations. AirAsia has set up several subsidiaries as well. Thai AirAsia was the first in 2003 and the latest addition is India AirAsia in 2015.
Recently AirAsia has encountered some bad weather. It increasingly faces intense competition of Indonesia's Lion Air in all its markets. Although Lion Air was initially based in Indonesia only, dragging down the profitability of Indonesia AirAsia only, Lion Air has recently copied AirAsia approach and has set up affiliate airlines as well, all in AirAsia's main markets: Malaysia (Malindo Air) and Thailand (Thai Lion Air). Lion Air has been growing more rapidly than AirAsia in passengers and destinations for the last years.
The brand of AirAsia was also hurt by the crash of Indonesia AirAsia flight 8501 from Surabaya to Singapore on 28 December 2014, which killed all 162 people on board. It was the first deadly crash of an AirAsia airplane. It is more complicated though because AirAsia is in fact only a minority (49%) shareholder in this airline. But in the perception of the people it was not an aircraft of an Indonesian airline that crashed, it was an aircraft of AirAsia.