The airline scrapping surfboard baggage fees
THE multi-millionaire owner of a major budget airline has made the decision on the Gold Coast to scrap dreaded extra baggage fees for surfboards with his airline.
Malaysian entrepreneur and AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said his airline would scrap extra baggage fees for boardriders during a partnership announcement with the World Surf League and Surfing Australia in Coolangatta.
Mr Fernandes told the Gold Coast Bulletin after the press conference he was more than happy to cut the extra sporting baggage fees which currently cost surfers $80 for up to 15kg if paid for at airport counters for international flights.
"It's for all surfers, for all surfers, yeah, not just professional surfers but all surfers," Mr Fernandes said.
"We're going to get rid of it - I just came up with it and my commercial team doesn't know about it - that's the advantage of owning an airline."
But in a statement, the airline said the offer would only run from March 19 until May 13 to "selected AirAsia ports".
Mr Fernandes, the majority shareholder in the Queens Park Rangers UK football club, said he had a soft spot for the Gold Coast and surfing, since a brief stint working as a teacher in the city.
"Back in 1986 in think it was, I taught here in a school at Southport, and saw the amazing energy the surfer community had," Mr Fernandes said.
The Gold Coast was the port of choice for the first low-cost long-haul service between Malaysia and Australia in 2007.
"Air Asia first came here because of my relationship teaching in a school here I have a very special fond memory of being here. I used to go to a club called Bombay Rock," he said.
"So our first route was actually to the Gold Coast when I started this airline with Richard Branson 10 years ago with AirAsia X, so Australia has always been a special place for us."
He said the sponsorship deal between the WSL and Surfing Australia would support local events and Fingal-based indigenous Jurakai Surf Culture program.
"We're supporting all the events at every level (in Australia) and through the WSL the AirAsia Big Air, event so there's a lot of activations," he said.
"I remember being on the Gold Coast and thinking surfing would be great. And when I checked around I didn't realise how deep surfing was in the Australian community," he said.
"Were going to enact that now, surfers won't have to pay for surfboards on Air Asia plus we're going to give you special low fares."
He said the sponsorship deal would also support surfers in South East Asia.
"I also thought we could help Asian surfers develop through the linkage. We fly to all the best surf destinations."
Surfing Australia boss Andrew Stark said plans to cut baggage fees was a big help to surfers.
"Tony said he was interested in getting involved in surfing and we worked with the World Surf League in the US to facilitate the deal," he said.
"Waves of Australians have been packing their boards and jetting off on surfing holidays to parts of Asia for years."