KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia will be the official airline of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).
The winner of the Airline of the Year award will be flying the Malaysian contingents to international sporting events in a two-year sponsorship deal.
AirAsia will send over 400 Malaysian athletes and officials to the Korat SEA Games. It will also fly the Malaysian contingent to the Olympic Games in Beijing next year.
Group chief executive officer of AirAsia, Datuk Tony Fernandes said: "Sports has always been my love and it was my dream to represent Malaysia at the Olympics."
"That never happened, however, I am thrilled that we will be taking our athletes to the SEA Games. As we move towards being an Asean airline we are pleased to be involved in the Games and who knows one day, AirAsia may fly all Asean athletes to the Games," said Fernandes.
"We have world-class athletes right here in Malaysia worthy of recognition and we will use the sponsorship to communicate this to the world.
"It is also about bridging countries under the banner of sports and bringing people together and to foster friendships through exchanging cultures, something we passionately believe in at AirAsia, especially with our counterparts in Thailand and Indonesia," said Fernandes after signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OCM president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar yesterday.
Tunku Imran said: "While international participation is crucial to athletes development, travelling takes up a massive portion of the council's budget and with AirAsia on board we look forward to sending more athletes for training and competitions through the airline's extensive network."
AirAsia also announced their sponsorship of national triathlon athlete Kimbeley Yap, who is eyeing a place in the Beijing Olympics.
AirAsia lauded Kimbeley for her efforts in winning the 2005 Manila SEA Games gold, finishing a creditable sixth in the Doha Asian Games and also for finishing her race at the Moololaba World Cup triathlon series.
Kimbeley said a burden has been lifted off her shoulder with the sponsorship.