Malaysian budget airline AirAsia launched on Monday “AirAsia ASEAN Pass” in a bid to grab the ASEAN market ahead of the open sky policy that will be implemented next year.
AirAsia ASEAN Pass is a travel pass that allows passengers to enjoy flights at a fixed rate on over 148 routes across all 10 ASEAN countries: Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines.
AirAsia CEO Group Tony Fernandes said the objective of launching the pass was to promote ASEAN integration and to help each ASEAN member country benefit more from the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community.
“We are extremely proud to introduce the AirAsia ASEAN Pass, which is a product specifically designed to further liberalize and encourage travel within the ASEAN community,” Fernandes said in a press conference.
“The pass allows us to bridge communities and attract more foreign tourists to the region. It’s the perfect instrument to promote ASEAN integration,” he continued.
The airline offer two passes, AirAsia ASEAN pass with 10 credits priced at RM499 (US$137) and AirAsia ASEAN pass+ with 20 credits priced at RM888. Flights with a duration of below two hours are valued at one credit, while flights of two hours and above are valued at three credits.
AirAsia ASEAN Pass holders must complete the travel within 30 days from the first flight, while AirAsia ASEAN Pass+ travel validity ends after 60 days. The validity of the pass, however, is for one year.
Fernandes said that the pass allowed the world to get to know 600 million people in 10 countries for a very low fare.
“We also want to encourage the world to see ASEAN. What’s special about ASEAN is the people,” Fernandes said.
Indonesia AirAsia president director Sunu Widyatmoko separately said the pass also aimed at promoting some of Indonesia’s tourist destinations other than Bali.
“This pass brings our passengers to other destinations beyond Bali. We just opened a new route to Lombok. We also want people from ASEAN to go to Bandung, which is a good place for shopping and also to Medan to enjoy the beautiful Lake Toba,” Sunu said.
The pass however could not be used during the peak season, such as year end, Idul Fitri and school holidays, Sunu said.
The budget airline is working to regain customers’ confidence following the Dec. 28 crash of its flight from Surabaya, East Java, to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.
Following the accident, the Indonesian Transportation Ministry sanctioned AirAsia Indonesia because the airline had not obtained its Surabaya-Singapore flight permit according to the correct procedure.
The launch of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass on Monday was the airline’s first promotional event since the plane crash.