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Recipe for the most-loved OTA in Southeast Asia = Free flights for a year for as less as $250. Lip smacking, much?

Looking to establish itself as the number 1 online travel agency in Southeast Asia, Air Asia Move, previously known as AirAsia superapp, announced the launch of its ASEAN Explorer Pass on Thursday.

“We are very focused on being the number 1 OTA in ASEAN, not just in flights, but the whole package,” said Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, the parent company of AirAsia Move.

An annual subscription of the newly launched pass allows subscribers to access unlimited flights for a year on AirAsia’s international and domestic flight network across 10 countries in Southeast Asia — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes benefits like hotel discounts and connectivity through AirAsia Ride for a full year.

The ASEAN Explorer Pass will be available at a special early-bird price of RM999 ($208) until April 30, after which, the pass will revert to its original price of RM1,188 ($248.50).

The Caveats

The ASEAN Explorer Pass follows the Unlimited ASEAN Pass, which was introduced last month with a limited purchase window. The new pass retains the same price but includes domestic travel options. Some key points to keep in mind:

  • Domestic travel options would only be for international tourists while flying within a country. For example: Vietnamese pass holders cannot use it for flights between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi and Thai pass holders cannot use it for flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
  • Flights covered by the pass only include the base fare; travelers must pay additional charges, fees, and taxes for each journey.
  • Travelers would need to book flights at least 14 days in advance.
  • Each traveler can only hold up to three confirmed bookings at any given time to prevent overbooking.
  • Unlike its predecessor, the ASEAN Explorer Pass does not have blackout dates for booking, however, seat availability on flights would depend on demand and supply, the company said.

Disrupting Travel, Once Again

“We disrupted travel 23 years ago, by creating a low-cost carrier. We’re going to disrupt it again, and make travel to longer destinations much cheaper,” Fernandes said.

Announcing the launch of the pass, Fernandes compared the ASEAN pass to the Eurail pass. “Only we do it on a plane in ASEAN that will take you to the corners of the region,” he said.

The pass also highlights AirAsia MOVE’s commitment to promoting exploration beyond popular destinations.

“There’ll be days that you can’t get the seat to the destination that you want, but there will always be a seat for you to go somewhere in this amazing region of 700 million people,” Fernandes said.

ASEAN: A Single Destination

He said, the AirAsia Move team is already in talks with a “national carrier” to join ASEAN Pass. The ultimate dream he said is to get all the ASEAN airlines to be a part of this product.

“This is not just for AirAsia. It’s about making ASEAN smaller and about allowing people to travel more and experience more over the next few years. We will add more special benefits, in terms of hotels and restaurants, so that travelers get to not just fly there, but see more,” he added.

Data from AirAsia Move’s previous travel pass in December 2022 shows strong demand for intra-ASEAN travel, with over 80,000 international flights redeemed annually, AirAsia MOVE said in a statement.

“This is a genuine attempt for everyone to go and see the amazing places in ASEAN. And we hope the world will treat ASEAN as a single destination going forward,” Fernandes said.

And as Malaysia aims to attract more than 30 million visitors and achieve tourism receipts of more than $100 billion ($21 billion), Tiong King Sing, the Malaysian tourism minister hoped AirAsia would play a role to help all tourism sectors.

We want to make AirAsia Move, ASEAN’s most-loved OTA, said Nadia Omer, CEO of AirAsia Move during the launch.

“We are looking to position ourselves as a competitive OTA, which provides customers as well as airline partners with more value in what they’re getting from regular OTAs,” Omer said earlier to Skift.

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Tags: air asia, asia, asia monthly, online travel agencies, online travel newsletter, subscription travel, tony fernandes

Photo credit: Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, said AirAsia Move is focused on being the number 1 OTA in ASEAN. AirAsia / AirAsia

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