Restaurant serving only in-flight meals opens in Asia

The company plans to have 100 airline food restaurants globally in a few years.

LONDON -- Have you ever had airline food that was so good that you wished you could get it all the time? Well, now you can.

AirAsia has opened a fast-food restaurant that will -- get this -- only serve airline meals.

The airline and its in-flight menu brand, Santan and T&CO, have partnered to launch what is thought to be the world’s first restaurant based on in-flight meals. The venue opened at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday.

“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,” said Catherine Goh, general manager of Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe. “We are very proud to extend what started out as an in-flight menu into new markets.”

AirAsia is so confident that its unique establishment will be a massive hit that it already has plans for rapid expansion.

“By the end of 2020, we aim to have five owned Santan restaurants and 100 franchisee-operated restaurants and cafes within the next three to five years with expansions in global markets,” said Goh.

Not only will the food be quick and available on land, but it will be cheap. For just 12 Malayasian Ringgits – or $2.88 – you can get pineapple fish noodles from Cambodia, chicken inasal with garlic rice from the Philippines, as well as locally-inspired dishes like the nasi lemak quinoa wrap and onde-onde cake.

“What started as 'AirAsia Cafe,' simply serving sandwiches and snacks in the sky, Santan was born in 2015 with the vision to create a unique dining experience in the sky,” according to Santan’s website. “Today, many of our meals have become household names in Malaysia and beyond … In 2019, our wildest dreams are finally coming true and we're so happy to have a home right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

The restaurant also plans to enhance the dining experiencing by bringing the establishment into the digital age and offering customers “a personal digital journey.”

“The restaurant and cafe features a smart menu equipped with Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, which is able to recommend popular dishes based on time, past ordering patterns as well as demographic taste,” said Goh.

The question remains whether or not people will end up choosing airline food on the ground over the other options available to consumers.

The CEO and co-founder of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said in a recent interview that the ultimate goal is to open a location in New York's Times Square.

“When I was 5 years old, I had two dreams … a vision of having an airline and a fast food restaurant. I have an airline. Now finally a restaurant,” Fernandes said in a post on his LinkedIn page. “People laughed at us when we only had 2 planes. Hey whatever. It’s a worldwide first. First airline to open a quick service restaurant based on airline food.”