It was a brightly-colored plane, but not because of the air carrier’s logo, but because of Southeast Asian indigenous textiles, and a bold red declaration of “I Love ASEAN.”
This is the new AirAsia plane, shown for the first time in public during this ASEAN Summit week, and in celebration of the 50 years of the founding of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
The culture buff in me was delighted. What a beautiful way to represent each country, portraying its indigenous pride. The plane has ten designs: batiks from Malaysia and Indonesia, particularly cetak for the first and ulos for the latter, poom khao bin from Thailand, trống đồng from Vietnam, kbach pka Chan from Cambodia, Lao phouthai from Laos, chate from Myanmar, jongsarat from Brunei from Brunei, Vanished da Miss Joaquim from Singapore, and of course tapis from the Philippines.
As the new plane was presented came the popping of the champagne, a parade of ASEAN countries’ flags, and heart-pounding drum beats and performances.
Watch some of the performances below:
With the livery, or the presentation of the new plane, also came the announcement of other “AirAsia Loves ASEAN” activities. To give back to the region, AirAsia is planning to do the following:
- AirAsia ASEAN University Partnership, where AirAsia will let college students in the ASEAN region intern with the airline, with a chance to secure full-time employment upon graduation
- ASEAN Journalists Camp, a workshop for journalists that will be hosted by AirAsia, to build a greater understanding of the ASEAN brand, its social, development and integration issues, and even sustainable, community-based tourism.
- ASEAN Entrepreneurs Day, where AirAsia will provide a forum for budding entrepreneurs to learn from the best startups in the ASEAN, as well as a platform to develop and market their businesses. This initiative began with Indonesian actor, host and VJ Daniel Mananta’s “Damn! I Love Indonesia” brand. The brand was carried over into “Damn! I Love ASEAN” shirts launched during the livery.
- Allstars Exchange Programme, where AirAsia employees will experience working and living in other ASEAN countries
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I was particularly inspired by the ASEAN entrepeneurs initiative, as I listened to AirAsia Group CEO’s words on the airline’s humble beginnings: “16 years ago, we had two planes, no money, and 200 staff, and we carried 200,000 passengers. And we were competing against giants like Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, PAL, Garuda. But in 16 years we grew from 2 planes to 230 planes…so I encourage all ASEAN entrepreneurs to dream.”
While the founder of the “Damn! I Love Indonesia” clothing brand could not make it to the livery, my friend and I happily met the brand’s director by chance.
It was a fun morning. Below are some more of my photos from the event: