An airline opened a restaurant selling plane food because it says people love its in-flight meals so much they want to eat them even when they’re not flying

An AirAsia Airbus A320-216 landing at Hong Kong International Airport in August 2018.

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An AirAsia Airbus A320-216 landing at Hong Kong International Airport in August 2018.
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Marcio Rodrigo Machado/S3studio/Getty Images
  • The low-cost airline AirAsia has opened a restaurant that lets you eat its in-flight meals without setting foot on a plane.
  • It opened a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday citing “a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region.”
  • The restaurant serves the meals you can get on flights as well as dishes from countries across Southeast Asia, and it hopes to have 100 franchise branches open in the next few years.
  • The CEO of AirAsia Group revealed the plan in February. “Our food is fantastic,” he told Larry King. “We believe in it so much, we’re going to start a fast-food restaurant out of it.”
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“What’s the deal with airplane food?”

AirAsia thinks the deal is that it’s so good you’ll want to experience it even without getting on a plane.

The airline, which this year was ranked the world’s best low-cost airline for the 11th year in a row, said there was such “demand” for its in-flight food that it opened a physical restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The restaurant, called Santan, was opened Monday by officials including the president and CEO of AirAsia Group.

“We have seen a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand,” Catherine Goh, the general manager of the restaurant, said in a statement.

Santan – which is also the Malaysian word for coconut milk – offers the same meals that are on the airline’s flights, which are typical Malaysian meals including nasi lemak and satay skewers.

Combo meals are 15 Malaysian ringgits, or $3.60.

Santan offers meals from Malaysia and the widen region, including Indonesia and Thailand.

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Santan offers meals from Malaysia and the widen region, including Indonesia and Thailand.
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Santan

But the restaurant – free from the constraints of air travel – also offers more than what passengers can get, including meals from Cambodia and the Philippines.

“We are very proud to extend what started out as an in-flight menu into new markets and reiterate our support for local and [Southeast Asian] producers, suppliers; apart from creating new job opportunities with affordable franchising,” Goh said.

Goh also said she expected there to be a rapid expansion in the number of restaurants. “By the end of 2020,” she said, “we aim to have five owned Santan restaurants and 100 franchisee-operated restaurants and cafés within the next three to five years with expansions in global markets.”

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told Reuters: “Our dream is to have one in Times Square.”

Fernandes first outlined the AirAsia Group’s plans of opening the restaurants during an appearance on “Larry King Now” in February.

“Our food is fantastic,” he said. “We believe in it so much, we’re going to start a fast-food restaurant out of it.”