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Dawn of the Dragon

A symbol of power, strength, wisdom and growth, the dragon is the perfect creature from the Chinese zodiac to adorn AirAsia’s 100th Airbus A320. In conjunction with the 2012 Chinese New Year celebration that also heralds the Year of the Dragon, AirAsia welcomes this mythical creature that is said to bring good fortune, joy and prosperity wherever it goes.

Images: Adam Lee

The 100th Airbus A320 with the dragon livery parked on the tarmac at LCC Terminal in Kuala Lumpur International Airport

From left to right on platform: Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun (partially hidden), Deputy Group CEO, AirAsia Berhad; Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial; Dato’ Aziz Bakar, Chairman AirAsia Berhad; Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes, Group CEO AirAsia Berhad; Azran Osman-Rani, CEO AirAsia X and Dato’ Fam Lee Ee (going down the stairs), member of BOD AirAsia Berhad, posing for a photograph after the eye-dotting ceremony

     Air travel had always been considered a luxury for many until AirAsia stepped into the game and totally transformed the accepted views on flying. Suddenly, people from all walks of life, regardless of their economic standing, could afford to fly to a multitude of destinations worldwide. Students could afford to go home during their college breaks, foreign workers could return to their motherland often and families could afford to take vacations together. The affordability also enabled businesses to flourish between countries where trade started to grow with the arrival of greater accessibility between nations within the AirAsia network of destinations.

     Having created accessibility and affordability, AirAsia is also committed to making the travel experience memorable. Despite it being a low-cost airline, the emphasis has always been on creating a fun, friendly and exciting experience. For many, getting into an aircraft is a momentous experience that will forever be etched in their memories long after they return to their daily lives. One of the first images to be carved into their minds is the sight of an aircraft parked on the tarmac, waiting for the guests to embark. Suddenly, this huge metal bird is within touch, its plumage painted with the proud colours of AirAsia, or emblazoned with graphics that promote tourism attractions of a destination, celebrated personalities, sporting activities, world renowned products or even the spirit and work culture in AirAsia. From merely travelling across the sky in metal tubes, AirAsia has turned the experience into a joyful expression of art.

     The fuselage of the aircraft becomes the canvas for the airline to tell a proud story. In true AirAsia fashion, the ordinary has been transformed into something quite extraordinary, celebrating creative and innovative ideas that have become the trademark of AirAsia!


From two to 100 aircraft in 10 years! That’s an amazing achievement for AirAsia, especially when everyone said we’d never make it. Our 100th aircraft was a historic moment for us – and it’s something we want to share with all our fans. It took a 20-man crew 12 days to paint the livery and we went behind the scenes to film the process for your viewing pleasure. It’s simply amazing!

Dance of the Dragon

The dragon is revered in Asian culture and it is a symbol of good luck, especially for the Chinese. A carefully coined phrase in Mandarin was painted on the sides of the engine turbines, which reads 百龙腾飞. This phrase means ‘100 Dragons Flying High’. This is a very auspicious phrase that not only bodes well for AirAsia’s guests, it also represents continuous growth and prosperity for the airline.

Unleashing the Dragon

“The use of this Chinese mythical dragon also reiterates the potential of the Chinese market for AirAsia, with Chinese travellers being the second highest nationality after Malaysians to travel on our route network.” ~ Kathleen Tan, AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial

The arrival of AirAsia’s 100th Airbus A320 in early February this year was marked with a double celebration, as AirAsia unveiled a dramatic dragon livery on the body of the aircraft. This bold and unusual take on the traditional dragon motif represents a creative perspective on age-old traditions. Additionally, the look also reflects AirAsia’s inroads into the Orient, where China offers tremendous opportunities for growth in the air travel sector, a fact substantiated by the number of travellers from China, AirAsia’s second largest market. Travel 3Sixty° spoke to Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial, on the inspiration behind the new dragon livery.


Tell us about the dragon livery.

Tony asked what we were planning to do for the arrival and launch of the 100th aircraft. Since the plane’s arrival also coincided with Chinese New Year and this being the Year of the Dragon, I thought an aircraft painted with the image of a dragon would be awesome!

This dragon is not one we normally see. How did it come about?

I didn’t want it to be just any dragon. I wanted a fresh perspective and requested something that not only captures the energy and essence of the mighty creature, but is also fresh, funky and contemporary. The creative team at The Partners in Singapore brought to life what I had in mind by giving the dragon a modern twist. They gave us a tattoo inspired sketch that was appealing and recognisable. We also didn’t opt for a colourful dragon because that would have been typical while the AirAsia brand is all about standing out from the rest. We are fun and bold, and we certainly dare to be different. Our dragon livery is contemporary and has international appeal, plus you don’t have to be Asian to appreciate its beauty.

How has the feedback been so far?

Very positive! Generally everyone likes it as it bold but beautiful. Spotting a dragon flying in the air is also considered very auspicious as the creature holds a very important place in Chinese myth and folklore. For our guests from China and other countries from the Orient, this is a very auspicious symbol and many try hard to fly in the said aircraft. We even offered special deals on the aircraft to Langkawi, Penang, Bali, Guilin, Macau and Guangzhou. Suffice to say, it was a sell out. Our guests simply love travelling on this aircraft, with many proudly proclaiming that AirAsia provided them with the opportunity to fly a dragon instead of an aircraft! I’ve also been getting a lot of feedback on my Weibo and Twitter accounts where fans of AirAsia rave about this funky design, asking for more of such liveries.   

Visit our Facebook page to see all 15 AirAsia liveries and tell us which is your favourite in not more than 20 words. You will stand a chance to walk away with an attractive gift voucher! www.facebook.com/travel3sixty

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