AirAsia launches loyalty program

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Asian budget carrier AirAsia has announced the launch of a new loyalty program for passengers.

The Malaysia-based carrier, Asia's largest low-cost airline, launched the program, named 'BIG', November 14, promising to give "a new definition to frequent flying and loyalty programmes as we know them."

The global scheme will allow members to collect points by flying with AirAsia, much like a traditional loyalty scheme, with redemption offers including flights and shopping deals from partners.

Each RM2 (€0.46) transaction with partners AirAsia and AirAsia Go will earn one 'BIGGIE' point, AirAsia said.

Tune Hotels, AirAsia's rapidly-growing chain of budget hotels, will also allow the collection and redemption of points, while those not looking to spend on travel will be able to log onto an online shopping mall to spend their points.

Budget airlines traditionally eschew loyalty programs as something for their mainline rivals, but have become increasingly willing to experiment with such schemes in recent years in the hunt to retain passengers -- AirAsia reportedly predicts an extra RM500 million (€116 million) in sales from 2012 from the BIG scheme.

Earlier this year, Southwest rolled out changes to its frequent flier program to allow passengers to redeem points for flights without blackout dates, in a bid to encourage passengers to spend more to receive more recognition.