AirAsia revamps loyalty programme

Fernandes: Scheme will help sell more tickets

AirAsia Group yesterday launched a revamped frequent-flyer programme (FFP) that promises an easier, faster and better way to earn points.

AirAsia Big Loyalty, which cost about 200 million baht to develop, is an overhaul of the original FFP launched in 2011 and will be instrumental to boost customer loyalty towards the brand.

The largest low-cost carrier group in Asia bills the new loyalty FFP as unique in the world with regard to the membership status system, offering rewards that may put other FFP schemes, particularly those of full-service carriers, to shame.

Under the scheme, points are determined by how often passengers fly: the more they fly with AirAsia, the faster they will earn points, regardless of how much they spend on fares.

The four-status system starts with Red status for passengers who fly 13 or fewer one-way short-haul flights in the preceding 12 months, through to Gold and Platinum, and all the way up to Black for those who fly 50 or more times with AirAsia.

AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes said the improved FFP will help drive the airline group's overall businesses, particularly by selling more air tickets.

He reckoned that the FFP will in effect boost the load factor on AirAsia flights, which on average have about 15% of seats left to be filled up.

AirAsia Group carries about 70 million passengers annually.

The FFP will also help drive ancillary income -- generate through selling in-flight food and drinks, among other services -- which represents about 15% of the group's overall annual revenue, as there are more passengers on each flight.

Mr Fernandes said the revised FFP was partly inspired by the retail sector, "from which we have learned so much".

He described the new FFP as part of a low-cost carrier's aspirations to become as good as the legacy carriers.

The new FFP is meant to more than double AirAsia's loyalty programme membership, now at 13 million, to about 30 million in next three years.

There are 1.8 million AirAsia FFP members in Thailand, the second-largest membership volume in the group's overall country footprint.

AirAsia's FFP essentially targets air ticket redemption, though there are diverse perks such as hotel stays and travel attractions that can be redeemed as part the airline's partnership with scores of organisations.

Points can be used to redeem all flights on AirAsia for a minimum of 500 Points.

For every 10 ringgit (78.90 baht) spent (other currencies are based on exchange rates), Red Members can earn up to 20 points, Gold Members up to 40, Platinum Members up to 70 and Black Members up to 120.

Long-haul and connecting flights count as two one-way short-haul flights for status calculation purposes, making it doubly rewarding to travel with AirAsia X, the medium-to-long-haul LCC operator under the AirAsia group's umbrella.

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