The ASEAN Air Pass launched by AirAsia in early 2015 did not even last four years. The low cost airline group suspended at the end of last year what could have been considered as the only true ASEAN product of the airline industry in the region…
There was neither a big announcement, nor a release. Just a few laconic sentences on AirAsia website, posted at the end of November, indicating that the ASEAN Air Pass has been indefinitely suspended.
The idea was great and AirAsia was indeed the only airline in Southeast Asia able to implement it thanks to its incredible network in the region. The ‘AirAsia ASEAN Pass allowed passengers to enjoy flights at a fixed rate on over 148 routes across all 10 ASEAN countries. During the launching, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes highlighted that the objective of the new product was to help promoting ASEAN integration and facilitate travelling all across the region. ‘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 was quoted.
Two passes were on offer. The first ASEAN Air Pass was doted with 10 credits to be spent within 30 days following the booking of the first flight: a second ASEAN Air Pass+ offered 20 credits to be spent in a timeframe of 60 days. The first formula was sold at RM499 (US$120) while the second one came out at RM888 (US$214). Each booked flight corresponded to a certain number of spent credit. Additional to the booking of the flight, passengers using the Pass needed to pay additionally local air transport taxes as well as luggage charges. If they wanted to change a flight, they add to eventually paid for the difference of fare.
While the fare was really a good bargain, some users were criticizing the lack of flexibility for booking flights – they ha to be booked at least 14 days before planned departure while many destinations were locked up to ASEAN Air Pass tickets – due to high demand. The Pass then requested a lot of good planning to be sure it could be fully used.
Asking AirAsia about the reason behind the suspension of the Pass at the end of last year, there was no clear answer from the management. Spokesperson Wanant Kerdchuen acknowledges that the Pass was a success. “ASEAN Pass was a delightful initiative that AirAsia had introduced to the market and it had received positive feedback of its concept. Despite termination, ASEAN Pass remains one of the greatest products that reflected a true spirit of ASEAN”, he explains.
He added that the airline adjusts products and services to match the demand of the markets. However no numbers were communicated about the total number of passes which were sold during its three-year and a half of existence. The only confirmation from AirAsia is that the ASEAN Air Pass will not be reactivated in the near future.