'I'm a top-line man,' says Fernandes as AirAsia sees air travel returning strongly

'I'm a top-line man,' says Fernandes as AirAsia sees air travel returning strongly
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 10): AirAsia Group Bhd group chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has described himself as a "top-line man” as the budget airline positions itself for revenue growth in anticipation that air travel demand, which has been battered by Covid-19- driven restricted movement policies, will come back strongly.

CNBC TV18 quoted Fernandes as saying at a CAPA — Centre for Aviation live event yesterday that AirAsia’s capital-raising exercise is expected to take place over the next two to three months. 

"I am a top-line man. Domestic is 50% of our business — it is doing well. 

"Expect opening up of international routes in the next six months," Fernandes said.

CNBC TV18 reported that Fernandes, however, added that AirAsia may have to return some aircraft in the near term as demand for air travel will be weak at least during 2021, but the airline is hopeful of a strong recovery in 2022 and 2023.

"Airlines are either not taking that many deliveries or are involved in [a] sale and leaseback ... flying is not going to come back in 2021, but definitely in 2022-2023," he said.

On Nov 24, AirAsia reported that its net loss widened to RM851.78 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2020 (3QFY20) from a net loss of RM51.44 million a year earlier.

The group said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that its revenue fell to RM442.91 million from RM3.07 billion.

Quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q), AirAsia’s 3QFY20 loss after tax narrowed to RM1.08 billion, from a loss after tax of RM1.16 billion for 2QFY20, as the group ramped up its operations following the easing of travel restrictions, according to the company.

On Bursa today, AirAsia’s share price was unchanged at 87.5 sen as at the time of writing, with a market capitalisation of about RM2.92 billion.

Some 19 million shares were traded. 

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Chong Jin Hun