AirAsia opens first airline food restaurant

Air Asia plans to take on American fast-food chains that have long dominated the Southeast Asia region by opening the first airline food restaurant.

AirAsia on Monday opened its first quick-service restaurant and cafe, based on the airline’s inflight Santan menu and T&Co coffee, in a mega-mall in Mid Valley, a central shopping haven in Kuala Lumpur.

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By the end of 2020, the airline group aims to own five Santan restaurants and, within the next three to five years, have 100 franchise-operated restaurants and cafes in global markets, according to the general manager of Santan Restaurant and T&Co Cafe, Catherine Goh. AirAsia is hoping to open in locations where lots of U.S. fast-food chains, like McDonald’s, draw crowds of hungry Asians currently.

Santan means “coconut” in Malay and is a popular ingredient in the cuisines of Southeast Asia. T&Co is a company in which AirAsia has an 80 percent stake; it supplies inflight coffee and tea solutions to AirAsia, which also runs a “Barista in the Skies” service offering premium handcrafted coffee such as espresso, long black, cappuccino, and café latte onboard select flights.

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