AirAsia 'super app' to help struggling airline rebound from pandemic, says Fernandes

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 3): AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, said the global pandemic and country lockdowns that ensued last year served as a great opportunity for the company to work on growing its "super app".

The group's website airasia.com has already been providing airline and travel-related services. However, in October last year, it unveiled the rebranding of the "super app", combining 15 types of products and services under three pillars — travel, e-commerce and fintech.

According to Japan's NHK World's interview with Fernandes recently, the app now has 16 million users a month.

He said the airline is in a good position to succeed given its growing know-your-customer (KYC) data, and wants a non-airline business to rival his airline business in a few years' time.

"One of the greatest assets of an airline is data. It's KYC. It's passport information. We have ID information. We have strong loyalty card information. People who fly have a bit more money, so there is also credit card information.

"If you take a Grab or a GoJet, they are generally transacting at a lower value, they may not have as much information as we do over the last 19 years. So knowing what you want, we can personalise a lot of things and I think that's one of our advantages," he said in the video interview dated Feb 1.

The airline industry has been hit the hardest in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as many flights are forced to be halted and plane fleet temporarily grounded, plummeting business performance and forcing many to be out of job.

Fernandes said his aim is for the airline to continue attracting customers at a low price while making money, and then take the opportunity to sell other things digitally to the customers. He added that he hopes to hire back all the staff that had to be let go during the pandemic.

The budget airline saw its worst quarter during the second quarter of last year at the peak of lockdown measures in Malaysia and around the region, as revenue dipped 96% to RM118.96 million as of June 30, 2020 compared with RM2.92 billion in the previous year while it registered a net loss of RM992.8 million versus a net profit of RM17.3 million a year earlier.

Joyce Goh