AirAsia was founded in 1993 by Malaysian government as a second airliner to the major national air company MAS (Malaysian Airlines) and AirAsia started operating after three years on 18th November 1996. During the following 5 years, AirAsia failed every year to bring profit, therefore AirAsia had a great debt of about USD $ 37 million in 2001. However, this time is the time when the real story of the largest low-cost airlines began. In 2001, Dato’ Sri Dr Tony Fernandes with partners Dato’ Pahamin Rejab (former chairman of Air Asia), Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun, and Dato’ Aziz Bakar purchased the AirAsia from Malaysian owner HICOM Holdings Berhad (now known as DRB-HICOM Berhad), for a symbolic price RM1 (USD 0.25 cents), and agreed to close the debts of the company. (AirAsia Annual Report, 2008, p.3)
They started with an innovative goal to make air travel cheaper and more affordable to people that “Now Everyone Can Fly”. AirAsia was re-branded and re-launched and started new life with two Boeing B737 planes, approximately 250 staffs and had only five destinations to Kota Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Labuan, Langkawi and Penang. According to AirAsia website, after 10 years Air Asia has around 100 air planes and flies to more than 60 destinations from 23 countries. Additionally, Air Asia operates more than 3,500 flights a week and has around 8,000 staffs. In 2009 AirAsia ferried more than 22 million passengers and AirAsia is ASEAN (Association of South Asia Nations) carrier. (AirAsia Annual Report, 2009, p.4). The Air Asia subsidiaries are the likes of Thai Air Asia, Indonesia Air Asia, Viet Jet Air Asia and Air Asia Red Tix. Meanwhile, Air Asia associate companies are Air Asia X, Tune Hotel and Tune Money.