July 31, 2019

AirAsia – one of the region’s best-known and popular budget airlines – was founded by Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, who famously took over a failing domestic carrier in Malaysia in 2001, and turned it into Asia’s largest low-cost carrier in only a few years.

Last month, Air Asia won World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Award from Skytrax – the eleventh year in a row that the airline has been recognized. The airline was also named Asia’s Best Low-Cost Airline.

Beyond the awards, AirAsia is quietly involved in Asian home markets where it operates, supporting programs in sport, HIV, social enterprise, education, climate change action and more. Air Asia takes its community involvement and corporate responsibility seriously.


The Air Asia Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the AirAsia Group and is working to help effect change through social entrepreneurship and a small grants program. The Foundation offers ongoing support and mentoring to grantees throughout the grant period, helping them gain exposure of their brand and reach new markets.

In 2015, the Foundation partnered with Open Learning Exchange Nepal (OLE Nepal) to rebuild four schools devastated in the 2015 earthquake, as part of their “To Nepal with Love” campaign. An AirAsia team visiting the finished schools in 2017 brought with them 300 new schoolbags and four sets of children’s books, donated by BookXcess, to set up libraries. Each school also received 25 children’s laptops, a server with open source material for teaching, teacher training and sports equipment. Indonesian projects that have received grants from the Foundation include Arkomjogja, Selaka Kotageded, Indonesia Medika Foundation, Natural Aceh and LP2M.

AirAsia helps transport aid, relief workers and survivors of natural disasters after earthquakes, hurricanes and other devastating events. For example, in 2004, AirAsia flew humanitarian flights to Aceh after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The airline carried out a massive fund raising campaign for people in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and supported relief efforts in Nepal after the earthquake there in 2015.


In 2017, the Foundation opened a social enterprise pop-up store – called Destination: GOOD – at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport, AirAsia’s regional base of operations. Destination: GOOD carries more than 200 products, including organic produce, stationary, accessories and home décor, produced by 23 ASEAN social enterprise companies supported by grants from the Foundation. Among these are Selaka Kotagede silversmiths from Indonesia, Rags2Riches artisans from the Philippines, Folkcharm weavers from Thailand and Zo Project paper-makers from Vietnam.

AirAsia Foundation Executive Director, Ms Yap Mun Ching said, “Since 2012, we have awarded 19 grants for social enterprises to expand their businesses. While doing this, we realised that many of them needed help to reach new markets. With this partnership with Malaysia Airports, we are able to provide the social enterprises with an international platform.”


This past week, the Malaysian-based airline started accepting applications for the AirAsia UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Performance Training Scholarship that allows an up-and-coming Mixed Martial Artist from Asia Pacific to train for a month at the UFC Institute in Shanghai, China. The custom-tailored program allows the chosen martial artist to train for a month with other world-class MMA athletes at the world-class training and sports science facility. Air Asia covers all expenses.

AirAsia Group Head of Branding Rudy Khaw said, “At AirAsia, we’ve always been committed to nurturing young talent, and it’s through our #DARETODREAM campaign that we continue to inspire up-and-coming athletes to realise their full potential.” Last years choice was Indonesian strawweight Linda Darrow, who trained at the UFC Institute in Las Vegas.

In 2018, AirAsia and Australia’s leading surf bodies, such as Surfing Australia and World Surfing League’s Australian professional series, created a joint partnership that saw AirAsia become surfing’s official airline partner in Australia. Key surfing events offer the AirAsia Big Air Award.

As part of the agreement, AirAsia allows Australian surfers going to Indonesia, the Maldives, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand to check their surfboards free of charge. Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said, “For the waves of surfers who head to South East Asia each year, the changes to AirAsia’s baggage policy was a welcomed benefit for the surfing community.

This year, AirAsia become the sponsor of the AirAsia Juraki Invitational, an indigenous Australian surfing event.

AirAsia and Santan teamed up with INSPI(RED), a non-profit working to end HIV/AIDS, to create a special inflight meal, the INSPI(RED) Burger.

Created by New York-based INSPI(RED) Chef Ambassador Hong Thaimee, the burger draws on her Northern Thai roots to deliver a truly East-meets-West experience. It features a chicken patty infused with fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, topped with zesty nam prik noom mayo (green chilli mayonnaise), shredded purple cabbage and tomato on a red beetroot bun.

One of the country’s foremost female chef/restaurateurs, Chef Hong Thaimee is also a humanitarian activist, inspirational speaker and global ambassador for Thailand’s culinary culture. For every INSPI(RED) Burger sold, 10% of sales will go to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS testing, counselling, treatment and prevention programmes in the Asean region.

INSPI (RED) Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Lotito said, “The INSPI(RED) Burger is not only a delicious option for [AirAsia] passengers; it brings real awareness to the AIDS fight and helps raise critical funds to finance HIV/AIDS programmes in Asean.” Passengers can pre-book the INSPI(RED) burger on most Air Asia flights.

So the next time you’re on board one of those distinctive red and white planes, visiting one of AirAsia’s 140 destinations, pick up their in-flight magazine, travel360, (or go online) and read the Make a Difference page for information about programs supported by the Foundation.

For more information about the AirAsia Foundation (and to apply for a grant) check them out at https://www.airasiafoundation.com.

By Liz
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