AirAsia X officially announced a partnership with Lotus Racing, during the world famous British Grand Prix held at the home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone from 9 – 11 July.
AirAsia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani and Lotus Racing CEO, Riad Asmat were on hand for the photo call at the Lotus Racing garage along with drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. Next to them was the Lotus Racing T127 displaying the freshly placed AirAsia logos on the car.
This announcement is very timely, given that AirAsia X flies directly to a number of destinations where races take place in the current Formula 1™ calendar such as the UK (via Stansted), Melbourne, Malaysia and Shanghai (via Hangzhou). Soon, Korea and Japan can be added to the list as the destinations are soon to be a part of the airline’s rapid growth.
Commenting on the partnership, Azran states, “Teaming up with Lotus Racing is an exciting step for AirAsia X. We admire Lotus Racing as a team which always strives for excellence, a trait similar to that of AirAsia X. Furthermore, as we expand our route network, it is essential that we build our global platform, and a great way to do so is via involvement in Formula One™. Particularly in our upcoming markets of Korea and Japan later this year, and France in early 2011, all of which host legs on the Formula One™ calendar.
“There were people who once doubted AirAsia X’s low cost long haul model, questioning whether it could survive in the current global travel market. We proved them wrong by becoming one of the best in the world! Lotus Racing too had their fair share of skepticism. No one thought the team could even make it to the grid in such a short period of time, let alone be worthy contenders on the track. But they silenced the critics not only by producing the cars on time for the race season, but also by becoming serious contenders in the competition. There’s a lot that we can learn from each other, and we look forward to this relationship with Lotus Racing, taking AirAsia X further into the realms of sports sponsorship,” Azran said.
Riad Asmat, Lotus Racing CEO, added his thoughts, saying: “We are extremely proud to welcome AirAsia X into the Lotus Racing family and are very excited about working together in partnership over the coming seasons. We are both growing fast, and the natural synergies between our two companies will provide us with many very exciting opportunities for Lotus Racing fans and AirAsia X passengers alike – frankly, we can’t wait to get started!”
Partnerships such as with the UK British MotoGP in June (the inaugural AirAsia British Grand Prix), also held at Silverstone, is another example of how powerful sports sponsorships can be as both branding and commercial tools for AirAsia.
AirAsia X’s relationship with sports sponsorship began in 2009 with the announcement of being ‘Proud Sponsors’ of the Oakland Raiders, one of the most prolific teams in the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. The airline also sponsors the Gold Coast Airport Marathon which took place earlier this month, with CEO Azran leading a team of 20 staff runners, as well as providing sponsorship to two runners from Cambodia and Singapore in a bid to enhance the accessibility of Australia to all ASEAN communities through use of their sister airline, low-cost short-haul AirAsia.
Sports sponsorship is very important to AirAsia and AirAsia X, being the most homogeneous mass market which unites countless communities. Through sports sponsorship, AirAsia and AirAsia X is able to not only fulfill the larger vision of the airline by making dreams come true, but also to establish its brand’s equity value – a significant part of its branding effort, enabling AirAsia to become a household brand.
About AirAsia and AirAsia X
AirAsia, the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia, services the most extensive network with approximately 132 routes covering destinations in Asia, Australia and Europe. Within 8 years of operations, AirAsia has carried more than 92 million guests and grown its fleet from just two aircraft to approximately 96. The airline today is proud to be a truly Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) airline with established operations based in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, servicing a network stretching across all Asean countries, China, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia. This is further complemented by AirAsia X, its low-cost long-haul affiliate carrier that currently flies to destinations in China, Australia, Taipei and the UK. AirAsia is the regional carrier with the largest destination network and highest flight frequencies. AirAsia was named World’s Best Low Cost Airline in the annual World Airline Survey by Skytrax for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.