Wednesday, 10 October 2007

CNN Talk Asia interview - Air Asia CEO, Tony Fernandes. Interviewer Andrew Stevens [September 20th 2007]:

A: You actually have pictures of some of the Man U stars on your planes. How much of this was based on the fact that you're a fan of Man U?

Tony Fernandes, CEO Air Asia:

Actually I hate Manchester United.

It was a very painful decision to sponsor them. But we all have to be a prostitute once in a while. I sort of side for West Am United which is a great training ground for adversity, 'cause they're always doing badly. But you know, hey, they're the biggest football club and the biggest brand...'

A: Have you seen an impact on the bottom line?

Without a doubt. You can't measure it. This is why Asian companies don't spend enough on branding, 'cause they want to see an immediate return. There are a lot more companies that are successful, but I think the aura of our brand has attracted a lot of partnerships, Citibank credit card, Tie ups with Royal Bank of Scotland, etc. etc., so the intangible value of the brand is huge. And the Manchester United relationship was the start of that.

Would the real Tony please stand up, please stand up!

“Manchester United stands for creativity, passion and the best of football. The partnership signifies our determination to be the best, and have the highest quality product. As AirAsia continues to grow it will stand for all that Manchester is, in becoming the best quality and value for money airline in the world. Now Everyone Can Fly… including all the Greats”.
– YBhg. Dato Tony Fernandes, Group CEO AirAsia Berhad.

Now, I've got to admit I had a great deal of respect for Mr Fernandes. I thought he was a brilliant entrepreneur and a down to earth type of guy, but if he treats his number one passenger in Manchester United like that, is it any wonder his airline sucks? Ironically, the other 'partner' he mentions is Citibank - and the very credit card that was declined by Air Asia - not by Citibank - costing me half a dozen promotional flights. Ms Nawaporn from 'Guest Support' said emphatically, '... we don't accept that card.' She probably doesn't barrack for Manchester United either. Ahhh, the aura of the brand. And if you toss in the Sir Frank Williams branding blooper, you'd have to wonder how Air Asia managed to get airborne at all.

Tony loves the media .... You would want to sell a fair few caps and crusty donuts to justify sponsoring the Williams F1 Team. Considering Air Asia's flights are purportedly as good as 'free' most of the time - there can't be much left in the kitty. So, besides hiring out wheelchairs, you have to beat the drum a bit. Wearing in his famous red cap, Tony got some primo facetime on the Williams team's BBC documentary recently. But for the fact that the Beeb doesn't accept ads and the former champ has retired, I'd have sworn Schumaker was on Shopping Channel.

Our Tony drew a very long bow. Sounding relatively unscripted as he said that Williams and Air Asia weren't all that different. I'm watching this thinking the seating is incredibly cramped and the cabin kind of smells of body odor by journey's end - but he's not going to say that. The bright red Air Asia livery - like I said, if you were sponsoring Ferrari. Then there was the cut-away shot to crew picking up lolly wrappers and airsick baggies - but that's more McDonald's than McLaren. Anyway, that's a tonne of Euros wisely spent.

And there's Manchester United too. But he's been caught out there. Our Tony certainly works the media, doesn't he? The man almost looks pained trying look genuine when he's greeting the ragtag army of passengers clogging the gangplank. He looks slightly more at ease with his staff. I always enjoy watching him helping the crew cleaning the aircraft, carrying luggage with the ground-staff;
Tony's rolled up sleeves and 'we're at the coalface together' attitude is well documented. And I'm not buying it. Look at his HR practices - where pilots have to pay their way entirely, and repay their tuition over the next fifteen years - and PR bluster about promoting skills and Malaysia. Take a pound of flesh and their first-born child!

And lastly, his attitude towards the disabled pretty much bursts that bubble. So, our inaugural gong goes to Air Asia's constantly conflicted - but never misquoted -

Tony Fernandes .....

The Annus 2007 Corporate Conscience Award winner


Photo thanks go to: Gird Beilfuss

How do they stack up? See for yourself!

Introducing The Causeway Collective.

Happy Loi Kratong, Blog Sisters & Brothers!

Before I leap fingers first into Sunday's blogging - now Monday - let me take this opportunity to say my first 'Hi'. Sorry ... how rude of me. What can I say? Many thanks for the great contributions and 'fan mail'. A shout-out to some very special visitors, That's right. Quite a few from HQ pop by to check up - also
'Life-Jacket', the omniscient insider & 'Mile High', my eyes in the sky, be good to yourselves and the TFCO2.

I hope that you're cool and keeping your heads down, remembering the genuine AA-MI3 suicide-donut pep talk.

Janet Leong at 'AA' - you're monitoring things - and also fighting fit too, I hope! A lot more for you below this message. Anyway, back to the blog guys - up those rankings.

The expose about Air Asia not being transparent and forthcoming in refunding passengers is l-o-n-g overdue and long in length but really demands to be read. Well done to The Star for picking it up. It won't slither away this time.

I'm pretty much off the Evil Empire's case as of today and handing the site to the The Causeway Co-Op [some hotshot brand builders of today & tomorrow who can benefit from reverse engineering Air Asia vis a vis marketing, advertising and PR. With Air Asia being so hugely, hugely profitable and vulnerable by continuing to treat people with disabilities like shit, along with a plethora of other shonk, I can't think of a better mark. This episode opened my eyes wide.

As to the sweepstakes, I'm putting a countdown clock up today as my last act. Cheers guys! Be good, and most importantly be honest, give credit where credit's due - and the boogie lawyers can't touch you [... unless you're in Malaysia where you can see all sorts of magical things occur].

I look forward to updates.

A. Horribilis Esq.

And an Open Letter to Air Asia ....

AirAsia friends - before you go. If you find any specific
factual errors in any of the Co-Op posts - or pull up your socks - please don't hesitate to leave us a message and they'll amend them. By far and away, the bulk of the material is in existence in news articles, journals and the like - not forgetting your website which is always a source of inspiration and laughter!

Anyway, we cannot vouch for originating authors' accuracy
100% - albeit we make every attempt to use reputable sources [and accept the consequences if we get it wrong]. You've always had my number and email. Frankly, your input would be welcome.

If your PR Dept informs the new guys they have access to a press liaison person, that would be sweeter than Tony when the cameras are rolling. Will you? Won't you? Hell, we'll tap out equally honest, substantially positive things if you communicate them.

And they clear the BS detector.

For example, we've done considerable research on today's blog entry, yet unable to find any article other than the one letter to The Star that evidences any attempt by AA to educate passengers to those refunds you're sitting. If you would be so kind as to help.
If all those thousands and thousands of US$50 have been going to charity, then you're stuffing up all over by not communicating.

Forgive me for asking all this here in an Open Letter; however, you'll probably be aware that my emails to your Director of Marketing went unanswered. Not a problem, he's more likely the sort to take an Alpha-Aggressive-Ostrich approach.

You can leave matters of opinion, parody and lambasting to the guys who take the reigns today, Two-Phase-Tony himself and the community of bloggers. Your airline cost me a dream holiday - and a hell of a lot more actually - and drove me insane, but it taught me to blog. And I've met an amazing bunch of people. Go figure!

This exercise is one of exploration - tapping into 2.0 - and quite Zen, until any mention of your 'guest support' people.(-;

"Blogs are simply the most explosive outbreak of information since the Internet itself and they are going to shake up every business, including yours."
- BusinessWeek

Take care.



" .... and it’s oh-so-cool to have our AirAsia babes on your desktops."

Boobalicious!!!! Can we expect Coyote Dancers any time soon?

This download strap-on or plug-in, whatever those things are called, notifies you when Air Asia are having an online promotion - with a twist. Compatible with Vista, it also more than hints at a little bit of slap, tickle and 'mile high' fun right there on your desktop - or - laptop. Not to put too fine a point on it, if there's one profession where the boys' hairspray is putting a far bigger hole in the atmosphere than the babes, it'd most certainly be as a flight attendant. If you've flown Air Asia, I think you know what I mean.

Ummm, from their website: "
no frills, plenty of thrills cabin crew. The ladies dress in chili red AirAsia suits. Perfectly applied makeup. Walk in confidence in fine court shoes. Smell like a garden of roses.The guys are smartly clad. Hair in perfect place. Shoes well-polished and shining. Winning smiles that promise impeccable service." What airhead writes copy like that??? Who puts it on the site? I'd like an airsick bag. I'll warrant they wrote this too: "AirAsia's cabin crew are thinkers too. How else can one conduct games and activities, then joke and laugh about it, and serve with a smile throughout, all onboard a soaring plane?" The Wiggles?

Up, Up and Away ... Have a Gay Ol' Day!!

I'm yet to download the 'widget', but I'd think that you won't find too many stewards or former chauffeurs included in the 'pictorial' promotional tool. If only Dr Mahathir was in still in the cockpit - we'd have absolutely none of this Benny Hill type of smuttiness. A few Coyote Dancers cavorting down the aisles, however, might help some travelers avoid the inescapable boredom of metal-tube-mania inevitable on these oatmeal-bland flights. After les boys are done dancing up a storm, perhaps the girls could belt out a karaoke number or two!? I'm betting our Tony has a wonderful baritone.

Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes - and some trolley dollies

[Photograph - Air Asia PR Dept - public domain press release + Video 1 [unknown Asian carrier]; Video 2- Parody - not Air Asia [Voting: 'Fashion at 5 Thousand]

Fragile! Attack of the Baggage Handlers

Angrytiger from Malaysia wrote on, 'Welcome aboard AirAsia! When AirAsia was launched as a low fare, no frills carrier in January 2002, we began operations with the mission to make flying affordable so everyone can fly. With four routes and two planes to start with, our low fares, no frills concept was introduced to Malaysians. The low fares were certainly good news to many, a majority of whom had never flown before. Dato' Pahamin A. Rajab, you should know how the air asia crew do? behind the wall while we waiting our thing.' [Voting: 'Baggage Handlers']

FREE? ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THIS 100% MISREPRESENTATION IS UNACCOMPANIED BY ANY DISCLAIMER ON THE PAGE but for a TINY piece of fine print if you click through the terms and conditions link. You're FREE to check it out for yourself. Oh, the widget is free IF you feel like dealing with this airline.

screen-cap: October 15th 2007


Sorry. If you don't bring your legs -
you get left behind.

You have simply got to check out the highlighted section!

SEPANG: More than 20 disabled and wheelchair-bound members of the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) held a protest against AirAsia for its refusal to take passengers who were completely immobile. The protesters, headed by the group's co-ordinator Christine Lee, and assistant co-ordinators V. Murugeswaran and Peter Tan, demanded AirAsia reviews its policies and takes reasonable steps to ensure facilities and services provided at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) are non-discriminatory.

Include us: The Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group holding the protest at LCCT yesterday. It wants AirAsia to review its policies and ensure it is disabled-friendly.

Lee said that unlike KLIA, the LCCT does not incorporate aerobridges, which allow easier access for passengers to board planes. “Passengers are instead required to walk up a flight of boarding stairs – a daunting task when one is disabled from the waist down,” she said.

Lee said that when booking AirAsia tickets online, a separate icon would appear on the website asking if the ticket purchaser would require “special assistance”. “If you clicked 'yes', then you won't be able to proceed with your booking. “That's when I called AirAsia's call centre, and was told that they were unable to accept passengers who are completely immobile. “This is even stipulated in AirAsia's terms and conditions!” she added. Lee also said that AirAsia charged RM12 for renting out a wheelchair, which a passenger could use to go from the ticketing counter to the departure hall. One would then have to go from the check-in gate to the aircraft without the wheelchair, which is quite absurd.”

Murugeswaran pointed out that AirAsia also stipulated that the carriage of persons with limited mobility was subject to whether they were able to climb the boarding stairs unaided or aided. “Passengers who are unable to board the stairs without any assistance would be requested to travel with a caregiver or companion. “This is blatantly discriminating, unfair and unacceptable. We want to be independent and not have to rely on other people to chaperon us when travelling,” he said, adding that nothing has been done despite BEAT holding a dialogue with AirAsia on the matter more than two years ago.
During the protest, BEAT also urged Malaysia Airports Bhd to ensure all new and old airports in the country are equipped with facilities to improve accessibility to disabled passengers. When contacted, an AirAsia spokesman said they were unable to comment on the matter at present. response from Mr Fernandes

And it's one small step forward ...

and two steps back ...

Screen grab Nov 25th '07

After my own shoddy treatment from the people Air Asia laughably call their 'Guest Support' team, I'm wondering if there's not a PR lesson to be learned here. For the record, I have made numerous attempts to reach an adequate settlement with Air Asia. That was a dismal failure. I have made several requests for
an official reply from the airline's Marketing Director for this blog - to which I have received no response. This is how Continental Airlines in USA look out for their customers ...

The ironic banner advertisment at the end of the infamous email thread. Priceless!