British Airways may have had an unfortunate outage with their website last week, but today I am much more interested in a statistic from Asia. Apparently Air Asia have the most fans of any airline on Facebook, but what does this mean for other airlines?

Meanwhile, the airline’s website attracts 20 million unique visitors per month, is ranked as the world’s second most popular blog site by an airline, and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes’s blog is the most popular in Malaysia by a corporate leader. The airline’s blog site, launched in September 2008, registers an average of 55,000 unique visitors per month. Tony’s blog was launched a month afterwards.

I recently caught up with a colleague from Bangkok who was speaking very highly of Air Asia and telling me that most people don’t realize that they are the same size in terms of passengers flown as some of the much better known airlines in the region. It was interesting to read their blog as well; I’m still planning to do a proper follow-up to my previous post on airline blogs, but one thing they are doing right is getting across the personality of the brand through the personality of employees.

In the words of CEO, Tony Fernandes (who also happens to be their number one online personality)

AirAsia’s culture of innovation called on us to explore and fully utilize new media and social networking as communication and marketing tools. By adopting these, we ride on technology to very quickly and conveniently give tens of thousands of people constant up-to-the-minute updates about AirAsia. In turn, these people – social networkers – help us tremendously by spreading word about our services and providing feedback for our improvement.

Back to the Facebook page, and when I took a look, the main item was “What are your bad experiences with AirAsia?” with various people giving their opinion. This is exactly the reason why so many airlines are afraid of social media. But what is even worse than ignoring it completely is to dip a toe in the water and then run away scared. Sometimes it is better to be seen as ignorant rather than intimidated. Air Asia is certainly neither of these.