Malaysia's AirAsia takes off with Toyota in Formula One

Malaysia's budget carrier AirAsia has signed a 10 million ringgit (2.8 million dollar) sponsorship deal with Toyota for the 2007 Formula One season, a report said Saturday.


The New Straits Times newspaper said that the Southeast Asia's pioneering low-cost carrier completed the deal with the giant Japanese constructor in Britain just before Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.


AirAsia officials could not be reached for comment.

The AirAsia's Formula One partnership comes after the carrier entered into a sponsorship deal with Manchester United in 2005 to attract global business.


Citing an industry source, the newspaper said the Formula One partnership would cost about 10 million ringgit a year and was for at least three years.


"Taking a cue from their English Premier League tie-up, this AirAsia partnership with Toyota will once again earn them a global visibility," it said.

The bright red AirAsia logo was fixed on the nose of Toyota's two race cars and just above the drivers helmet visor during the practice session at Melbourne's Albert Park, the newspaper said.

In January Toyota unveiled the car they believe can finally bring them a coveted first grand prix win after five barren years in Formula One.


Toyota are pinning their faith on the all new TF107 and their team of drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher and new test driver Franck Montagny.


AirAsia recently said its net profit for the six months to December soared to 227 million ringgit (64.7 million dollars) from 59.9 million ringgit.

AirAsia was launched as a budget carrier in 2001 with just two aircraft. It now offers more than 100 domestic and international flights to Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.


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