Subscriptions are relatively hot in travel although AirAsia’s limited new plan might be seen as a sign of weakness rather than strength. AirAsia Super+ is essentially a marketing plan to jumpstart the airline’s flights and food delivery businesses.
AirAsia, which is pursuing a superapp strategy in Southeast Asia, began selling a new subscription plan for flights and food delivery to customers in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
However, AirAsia, which recently rebranded to Capital A, is limiting the new Super+ subscription plan to a maximum of 200,000 subscribers who would have to sign up by April 2. The new subscription plan replaces the airline’s previous subscriptions for “unlimited” flights, according to a published report.
For travel from April 11, 2022 through April 10, 2023, passengers in those countries who become subscribers would be eligible for AirAsia domestic and international flights on all of its airlines without having to pay the base fares. They would also qualify for Covid flight insurance coverage for flight cancellations when diagnosed as positive three to seven days prior to departure of their scheduled flights.
Passengers would still have to pay for “government taxes and fees, add-ons and other applicable charges,” the airline stated as part of its announcement of the plan Monday.
There are also an ample number of blackout dates where the “free” flights would be unavailable.
Subscribers wouldn’t need to pay for food delivery charges in all of the countries where AirAsia offers the service, the airline and superapp company said.
AirAsia said it would limit the number of subscribers to its new Super+ plan to 200,000 through April 2, 2022. Annual subscriptions would range from $125 to $160 in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines in local currencies.
The plan came as AirAsia Group, which recently rebranded to Capital A, tries to transition beyond aviation and toward becoming a lifestyle company, as well. The program seems to be designed to jumpstart the airline’s flights as parts of Asia begin to reopen from coronavirus border closings.
Capital A recently announced a deal to add 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for AirAsia Ride in Malaysia, and its digital business recently generated a majority of revenue because flight capacity was so limited.
Airlines — or lifestyle companies, that is — and booking companies have previously operated subscription services. In the online travel agency sector, the most notable recent example is Spain’s eDreams Odigeo, which said it had 2.4 million subscribers to its flight and hotel subscription business at the end of 2021.
Subscription costs for eDreams Prime appear to be considerably lower than AirAsia’s plan, and they aren’t limited to a couple hundred thousand subscribers. eDreams Prime offers flight and hotel discounts while AirAsia is offering free flights although subscribers still have to pay taxes and fees.
Unlike eDreams Odigeo, however, Capital A operates several airlines, which could give it advantages.
AirAsia’s Super+ plan currently is slated to be good for flights for its limited subscriber base through April 10, 2023, although the company promises more to come.
“Subscribers can look forward to more benefits from across the whole Airasia ecosystem that will be subsequently added as part of this subscription, including discounts on Airasia Ride, Airasia Xpress (delivery), SNAP (flight and hotel packages), hotels and more,” the company said.
“We are proud to be the only superapp in the market that is able to offer this one-of-a-kind subscription plan that includes both travel and lifestyle products and services, clearly positioning us the preferred provider for the region,” argued Amanda Woo, CEO of AirAsia’s super app in a statement.
AirAsia announced the Super+ bran in a press briefing Monday.