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December 5, 2023

AirAsia hits half a billion passengers in 16 years


AirAsia’s 500 millionth guest Dr Panut Oprasertsawat (centre right) receiving 3 million AirAsia BIG Points, THB50,000 worth of Vidi vouchers and free AirAsia flights for life from AirAsia Group CEO and AirAsia X Co-Group CEO Tony Fernandes and Thai TV superstar Pope Thanawat (second from right).

By Divine Recio

UPDATED, May 20, 2018 – In just 16 years, AirAsia has flown over 500 million guests to over 130 destinations, many of which are unique destinations that only AirAsia flies to.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “We started in 2001 with just 2 planes and 200 Allstars in Malaysia and carried 200,000 guests. Today, we have more than 200 planes, over 200,000 Allstars of 50 different nationalities and half a billion guests, 60% of which were first time flyers. Half a billion guests is no small feat – It is 7 times the population of Thailand, 18 times the population of Malaysia and about 80% of the entire ASEAN population of 640 million.”

Fernandes attributes the milestone to every single guest who has flown with AirAsia, being a part of their flying experience around the world, making ASEAN a smaller place, and proud to have contributed positively to the region’s economy through tourism and job creation.

The 500 millionth guest, a 34-year old Thai Dr Panut Oprasertsawat, made AirAsia’s half a billion mark when he flew from Phuket to Don Muang Bangkok, Thailand on 18 March 2018.

AirAsia is proud to be a market leader in air connectivity within ASEAN. Since its early days, AirAsia has initiated new routes which were previously unheard of, including between East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia to bring communities closer and boost economic activities.


Most recently, the UK- based air travel intelligence company, OAG reported that Singapore-Kuala Lumpur is the busiest international route, with AirAsia now holding the largest share of capacity.

AirAsia has been named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards nine consecutive years from 2009-2017.

Capt. Dexter Comendador, CEO AirAsia Philippines

AirAsia in the Philippines

AirAsia Philippines was founded in 7 December 2010 and started operations in 28 March 2011. Its primary hub is in NAIA 1 and has secondary hubs in Clark (CRK), Davao (DVO), Kalibo (KLO), Mactan (CEB), and Puerto Princesa (PPS) international airports.

Captain Dexter Comendador, CEO of AirAsia Philippines, revealed to this writer that they intend to move their hub to CLIA in anticipation of their expansion that will bring its current fleet of 18 planes to 22 by the end of the year and a projected 72 planes in 10 years after receiving 5 planes per year.

“For the next years, we should be receiving five planes as programmed by Toni Fernandes for AirAsia Philippines as we are first in performance despite being the youngest and smallest,” Comendador imparted, “but we lack the infrastructure in our current hub in NAIA, where will we park our planes?”

Comendador added that they will have to develop provincial hubs just like what they did in Kalibo and Cebu. AirAsia Philippines already has a plane in its hangar in Clark, and they are eagerly awaiting the opening of the NLEX-SLEX connector and the MRT in around three years to use it as their primary hub. The airline will also develop the Panglao (Bohol) hub. He believes that opening these cities will open them up to the international network of AirAsia and thereby increase tourism figures.

Expansion plans

Comendador sees a very bright future for the airline. They have reached their half-year target despite the Boracay closure. They are already working on an IPO that will make them a part of “One AirAsia” referring to a united brand for AirAsia companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

“It will be called ASEAN AirAsia, putting emphasis on what the ASEAN countries are working on, similarity to the EU movement.”

“By the end of the year, Air Asia Philippines will fly to Osaka, Japan, and Cebu-Shenzhen and Cebu-Hangzhou this month as we see better relations with China. We are also looking at Panglao-Macau and Panglao-Taipei routes that will be appreciated by many as they don’t have to go to Manila. We are also looking at flying to Palau. Domestically, we are partner airlines of Bohol through Governor Chatto. This will open many possibilities in using it as a hub like international flights that would be early next year,” he enthused.

In relation to the world aviation

The IATA has showed that global passenger traffic demand rose 9.5% compared to the same month in March last year, the fastest pace in 12 months. The growth was led by Asia-Pacific airlines supported by strong regional economic growth and ongoing expansion in the number of airport-pair options for travelers.


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