A brief history of the AirAsia Group

The Beginning

AirAsia is Asia’s 5th largest airline, it was founded in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, in 1993 and on the 18th of November 1996 it made its first flight. At this time, AirAsia operated an entire fleet of 32 737-300 aircraft.

Thai AirAsia X becomes Airbus A330neo operator | International Flight  Network
A Thai AirAsia A330NEO
(Credit: International Flight Network)

The airline was owned by a company which was working with the Malaysian government. Unfortunately the government didn’t seem to be very good at handling the airline as in 2001, the airline was in heavy, heavy debt. AirAsia was then saved by a company called Warner Media (at that time it was known as ‘Time Warner’), the owner of this company was Tony Fernandes who is now the CEO of AirAsia. Tony Fernandes purchased the airline for a shocking price, only 1 Malaysian Ringgit or $0.26. The catch was that the airline was in $11Million of debt.

In 2003, things were starting to look better for the airline so it opened up a new hub in Malaysia at Senai Airport and then launched its first international flight to Bangkok. Seven years after the purchase of the airline, it had enough money to replace the 737s with brand new A320 aircraft. The 747-200Bs and the MD11s were also retired.

Gradual Expansion and Success

AirAsia started its Thai AirAsia offshoot shortly afterwards, the airline had observed that Thailand was becoming an increasingly popular international and regional tourist destination and therefore it seemed like a good idea to launch a new low cost airline. Tony Fernandes made the right decision here and Thai AirAsia soon started international flights to Singapore and Indonesia and to Macau in June of 2004. Flights to the Philippines and mainland China commenced in 2005 and were operated by both AirAsia and Thai AirAsia, flights to Cambodia and Vietnam followed in the same year. Flights to Brunei and Myanmar started in 2006 with both airlines. AirAsia shortly took over routes of a domestic Malaysian airline but then they were returned after they were not profitable.

In late 2006, Tony Fernandes produced a five-year plan to boost AirAsia’s presence in Asia. AirAsia proposed expanding its network by connecting destinations throughout the region and expanding further into the Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian markets. Via its sister companies, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia, the plan focused on developing a hub in Bangkok and Jakarta. In 2007, AirAsia received 13.9 million passengers, a new milestone for the airline. On September 28th 2008, AirAsia added 106 new routes to its 60 existing destinations, serving more routes than many of the airlines in the region.

Following the airline’s astounding progress, Tony Fernandes announced that AirAsia would be launching eight more offshoots, these would be AirAsia China, AirAsia Vietnam, AirAsia India, AirAsia Japan, AirAsia X, Indonesia AirAsia X, Philippines AirAsia and Thai AirAsia X. AirAsia launched routes to London Stansted Airport with their A340-300 along with some other European routes, but these were stopped in 2012. AirAsia also ran flights to Saudi Arabia and Egypt during this period.

Current AirAsia Fleet

As of 2022, AirAsia (Malaysia) operates a total of 100 aircraft, all of them being from Airbus, with an order of 362 Airbus A321NEOs.

Airbus A320-200Airbus A320neoAirbus A321neoA330-300 (AirAsiaX Malaysia)A330NEO (AirAsiaX Malaysia)
68292 (362 on order)2734
This info is for AirAsia MALAYSIA ONLY

Seat Varieties

Being a low-cost regional airline, AirAsia mainly has installed the economy class seating arrangement, but with different types. For example, you can choose to sit in the ‘AirAsia Hot Seat’ which means seats with legroom, or there is the ‘Quiet zone’ for those who do not want to be disturbed during their flight. AirAsia also runs a premium economy which has a fully flat bed.


  • Simple flying
  • wikipedia
  • Aviator’s Hub
  • Airasia.com
  • Airbus.com (Cover image)

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