The airline was established in 1993 and started operations on 18 November 1996. It was originally founded by a government-owned conglomerate DRB-Hicom. On December 2, 2001, the heavily-indebted airline was purchased by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes's company Tune Air Sdn Bhd for the token sum of one ringgit. Fernandes proceeded to engineer a remarkable turnaround, turning a profit in 2002 and launching new routes from its hub in Kuala Lumpur International Airport at breakneck speed, undercutting former monopoly operator Malaysia Airlines with promotional fares as low as RM1 (US $0.27). AirAsia has been expanding rapidly since 2001, to become an award winning and the largest low cost carrier in Asia.
A new budget terminal, the first of its kind in Asia was opened in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 23 March 2006. Built at a cost of RM108 million (US $29.2 million) and spanning some 35,000 square metres (116,000 square feet), the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) is the new home for AirAsia Bhd. LCCT will initially handle 10 million passengers a year. AirAsia Group is expected to carry 18 million passengers in 2007.
AirAsia operates with the world’s lowest unit cost of US$0.023/ASK and a passenger break-even load factor of 52%. It has hedged 100% of its fuel requirements for the next three years, achieves an aircraft turnaround time of 25 minutes, has a crew productivity level that is triple that of Malaysia Airlines and achieves an average aircraft utilisation rate of 13 hours a day.
AirAsia is currently the main customer of the Airbus A320. The company has placed an order of 175 units of the same plane to service its routes and at least 50 of these A320 will be operational by 2013. The first unit of the plane arrived on 8 December, 2005.
AirAsia operates over 200 flights a day, to over 75 domestic and international routes covering Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore,...