Malaysia: AirAsia buys 50% in online travel planner Touristly, injects $2.61m

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AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes speaks during a group news conference in Tokyo July 1, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato

​​Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Bhd ​is acquiring a 50 per cent stake in online travel planner Touristly Travel Sdn Bhd through an asset injection and loan deal valued at $2.61 million (MYR11.5 million).

In an announcement on Wednesday, Air Asia said it will inject the digital platform of its Travel 3Sixty inflight magazine, valued at $1.47 million (MYR6.5 million) into Touristly via AirAsia Investments Ltd and extend a $1.13 million (MYR5 million) convertible loan to Touristly for working capital and development.

Moreover, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes will serve as Chairman of the Board for Touristly upon completion of the acquisition.

Touristly, last year had raised an undisclosed pre-Series A round from Tune Group startup incubator Tune Labs, which is headed by Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Lim Kian Onn. Apart from Tune Labs, the startup has also received investment from Netrove Ventures Group and Cradle Fund’s Cradle Investment Programme 500 (CIP500).

“We see enormous potential in Touristly, which perfectly complements AirAsia’s existing travel offering. Our guests will be able to choose from thousands of activities when purchasing a flight and this brings us a step closer to becoming a truly one-stop digital airline,” said Fernandes in a statement.

The digital platform of AirAsia’s 3Sixty comprises the online brand for the Travel 3Sixty inflight magazine, touchpoints on airasia.com and online advertising assets, which will allow the startup to reach AirAsia’s 60 million guests annually.

Meanwhile, Touristly will also gain access to offline advertising assets, including the physical version of the inflight magazine, overhead cabins and seat trays on AirAsia aircraft.

“The deal will strengthen AirAsia’s ancillary portfolio by offering its guests on-ground activities such as restaurants, theme parks, attractions, spas and tours at more than 70 destinations that the airline operates to,” the Asia’s largest low-cost airline said.

Touristly, a trip planner that lets travelers customise their ​holidays was one of two startups selected at Pitch@Palace Malaysia in June 2016 to represent the country at Pitch@Palace Global, which was held at St James Palace in London, UK in December 2016.

​Launched in June 2015, the platform currently claims to feature over 13,000 deals on tours, attractions, theme parks, activities, spas and restaurants in 70 destinations around Asia Pacific, with more destinations and tours to be added.​

Fernandes’ startup incubator Tune Labs has earlier also invested an undisclosed amount in Golfreserv, a Malaysian provider of online tee times to golfers.

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