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AirAsia Unveils Special Tribute Livery Dedicated to Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks

AirAsia today unveiled a special tribute livery
dedicated to the late Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks, a Sabah
tourism icon and former General Manager of the Sabah
Tourism Board.

Datuk Irene was a key figure in shaping and
promoting Sabah’s tourism sector and has been supporting AirAsia
as a key tourism player in the state since its inception 22 years

The special tribute livery is a reflection of the airline’s appreciation for her impactful support and a symbol of the close
ties between AirAsia and Sabah.

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (third from left), CEO of Capital A, with Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, Executive Chairman of Capital A and YB Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment and Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, with family of the late Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks. Click to enlarge.

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes with Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, and family of the late Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks

“After over two decades of
unyielding support from Datuk Irene, we are humbled and honoured
to unveil a special livery dedicated to her,” said Capital A Executive
Chairman, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun. “Her instrumental role
in shaping and promoting Sabah’s tourism and collaborative spirit was pivotal in establishing our Kota Kinabalu hub, and we owe a
debt of gratitude for her steadfast support. We salute you, Datuk
Irene, and thank you for being a true partner and an integral part
of the AirAsia journey.”

After establishing Kota Kinabalu as a hub in 2002
with the support of Datuk Irene and the Sabah Tourism Board, Kota
Kinabalu became AirAsia’s second biggest hub after Kuala Lumpur.

As the biggest airline with the widest connectivity in the state,
AirAsia now flies 21 routes including domestic and international
destinations with 331 flights weekly from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan
and Tawau.

In 2014, AirAsia launched the ‘Thank You Sabah’
livery dedicated to the Land Below the Wind and the people of
Sabah for their undivided support for the airline’s significant
presence in the state. Today, the airline is taking one step
further to honour Sabah and the late Datuk Irene by naming one of
its planes after her.

AirAsia operates flights from three
destinations in Sabah: Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Tawau, to
various destinations, including Singapore, Indonesia, China, Hong
Kong, Taipei, Philippines and more.

The airline is also planning
to introduce new routes, such as Seoul to Kota Kinabalu, among
other destinations in the upcoming year and beyond.

“Sabah is such a special place for AirAsia, where we have
grown exponentially flying more than 80 million passengers to/from
Sabah since 2002 until November 2023. However, no matter how
successful we are, we will never forget those people who helped us
along the way, and Datuk Irene was one of those who truly believed
in us,” said Capital A CEO, Tony Fernandes. “Back in 2001, when the news about Din and I decided to
acquire an airline was out, there was only one person who took it
really seriously and that person was Datuk Irene. With her
continued support, we established Sabah as a hub and the rest is
history. So Irene this special livery is for you, it will be the
first plane we ever named and we dedicated it to you. Look out for
it when it is flying in the skies especially over Sabah when you
look down on us. Rest in peace and lots of love from all of us at

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