AirAsia acquires 50% stake in travel startup

AirAsia Berhad is acquiring a 50 per cent stake in online travel planner Touristly Travel (Touristly) through an asset injection and loan deal valued at INR 168 million. The transaction will see AirAsia Berhad inject the digital platform of its Travel 3Sixty inflight magazine, valued at INR 95 million, into Touristly via AirAsia Investments and extend INR 73 million convertible loan to Touristly for working capital and development.

The digital platform 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.

Touristly, which will operate under the Travel 3Sixty brand following this deal, will also gain access to offline advertising assets, including the physical version of the inflight magazine, overhead cabins and seat trays on AirAsia aircraft.

In addition, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes will serve as chairman of the board for Touristly upon completion of the acquisition.

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. Touristly currently sells more than 800 activities in Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Aaron Sarma, CEO, Touristly, said, “Working with AirAsia has been on our minds since our inception. The insight we can gain from AirAsia’s 15 years in the travel industry will help us better understand the Asia Pacific market and quickly adapt to deliver real value to our customers. Our dream was to help travellers to Asia Pacific find amazing things to do in the region and we’re truly excited about this opportunity to be able to share our platform with more people.”

Fernandes added, “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.”

In May 2016, Touristly raised an undisclosed pre-Series A round from Tune Group startup incubator Tune Labs, headed by Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Lim Kian Onn. Touristly was also 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.

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