AirAsia onaircraftreboot path The Star
AirAsia onaircraftreboot path The Star

AirAsia onaircraftreboot path | The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia is planning to reactivate 29 more aircraft, which will mark the complete mobilisation of its targeted fleet reactivation plan of 204 by year-end.

“We are slowly coming out from the Covid-19 pandemic. We still have 29 aircraft to bring back.

“In my eyes, the pandemic will be over for us when we have all the aircraft back. Throughout this pandemic period, we have been rebuilding and restructuring to turn the negative situation into a positive one,” Capital A Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes told a press conference here yesterday.

The low-cost airline had recently announced its plans to reactivate all 204 of its Airbus A320 aircraft by the end of the year with the support of engine maker CFM International.

AirAsia had stated that it was looking to expand to above 300 aircraft in the next five years.

Fernandes said spare parts and engine availability had been an issue due to disruptions in the supply chain, which also contributed to flight delays.

However, he said supply chain would return to normalcy by 2024.

“Restarting an airline with 200 planes that have not been used for three years is a monstrous job and our engineers are doing an incredible job.

“For the first time, Airbus has confirmed its ability to deliver planes. They have not been able to do so. Hence, I think the supply chains will look better from 2024 onwards,” he said.

On the matter of flight delays involving AirAsia, Fernandes said the situation has improved with AirAsia having now achieved a 91% on-time record, and if within a 15-minute window, the airline has reached 96%.

“This is a remarkable achievement and it is going to get better and better as we have all our planes back.

“Delays will happen. There are no airlines that do not have delays. The important thing is how we manage the delays, where people do not have to sit around for hours and hours. That is what we are trying to work out,” he said.

During the worst days of the pandemic. AirAsia was forced to have more than 90% of its fleet of more than 200 planes across Asia grounded due to resurgence of outbreaks. The challenging period of halted flights prompted a rebranding effort, resulting in the airline’s transformation into Capital A, to signal it will be more than just a low-cost carrier. The key had been Capital A’s airasia Super App which launched in 2020 and has steadily expanded since.

As part of its efforts to build a multifaceted travel ecosystem under its brand, the digital arm of Capital A, airasia Digital announced has its rebranding into Move Digital Sdn Bhd (Move).

airasia Superapp, Move’s travel platform business will also undergo a brand refresh and change its name to “airasia move” as part of the ongoing transformation.

“Move signifies us better as the digital arm of Capital A, and reiterates our commitment to move people, ideas and innovation forward within the travel space.

“Travel is our specialty, but when you travel, you need other things as well.

“Most online travel agencies (OTAs) just focus on flight and hotel.

“However, part of travelling is also mobility on the ground, going to and from the airport. We want to be an OTA plus plus, the kind that deals with anything you want to do on travel from entertainment to food to mobility to hotels and flights,” Fernandes said during the rebranding.

The airasia Superapp is a travel platform offering value and convenience through seamless end-to-end booking experiences within the past two years.

On the other hand, BigPay has established itself as an innovative fintech provider enabling South-East Asians to improve their lives through better financial management.

Apart from flights and hotels, the airasia Superapp, intends to lead the charge in travel and fintech together by enabling users to buy insurance, make bill payments, provide loans, and remittance.

“We want to make payment cheaper, to give users better exchange rates when they travel. The superapp has remained Ebitda positive for five consecutive quarters since the second quarter of 2022, while our growth in revenue for the travel sector has reached 116% year-on-year.

When you compare us with other OTAs, the most important thing is we are making money. So now we are trying to make sure the ecosystem works better within AirAsia Digital, with BigPay,” Fernandes said.

Having expanded to four countries in Asean; Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, the airasia Super App has about 51 million users. airasia Superapp now has 15 million monthly active users and BigPay has 1.4 million carded users and is expected to breakeven by 2024.

Fernandes will assume the role of executive chairman of Move. Nadia Omer will be the new chief executive officer of airasia move effective Oct 26 and Zubin Rada Krishnan will be the chief executive officer of BigPay.

Nadia will further drive airasia move’s vision as a low-cost travel platform with high conversion and close collaborate with BigPay.

“I am not leaving Capital A. I am still the chief executive officer of Capital A. However, a lot of my management time will be on delivering this massive potential (airasia superapp),” Fernandes said.

He added that while AirAsia is still the larger revenue contributor, non AirAsia components like hotels, ride hailing (which have seen about 25,000 rides a day now), food and insurance (insurance penetration is at about 10%) will be a bigger contributor in five years.

“We are getting a lot of non AirAsia customers, people who have never flown on AirAsia, using AirAsia SuperApp. I think we are growing at about 10% per quarter in terms of onboarding new customers. AirAsia customers are still growing faster.

“We have a conversion rate of 7% for AirAsia and non AirAsia customers using AirAsia Ride. That is a massive number. Our plan is to convert more people who fly AirAsia or Citilink, etc, to buy AirAsia Hotel with us. That is the investment thesis. That is why I think this is huge. We can monetise 51 million customers. We have a massive database. A lot of other OTAs have to go out and acquire customers but we are getting it naturally, and then converting it,” Fernandes said.

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