Metamorphosis: From airline to tech company that happens to fly planes

Metamorphosis: From airline to tech company that happens to fly planes
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 12): AirAsia Group Bhd CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes compares the pandemic to the “bird strike” incident the low-cost airline group faced in 2001. 

Back then, a flock of birds ran into one of the two planes it had, grounding it for 12 days. Having just won a coveted route and committed to turning around the company, Fernandes made the decision to not cancel any flights and fly the sole plane 24 hours non-stop for 10 days.

This time, it’s the pandemic that has grounded planes for months. 

Again, faced with this crisis, Fernandes made a tough decision. He launched a digital skills training centre to upskill internal staff. He added last-mile delivery services of food and other items to AirAsia’s logistics arm and converted planes to carry cargo. Also coming up are air taxi, ride-hailing and drone delivery services.

But it’s not an easy space to compete in. The tech space is full of heavily-funded potential unicorns burning through dollars and not concerned about profitability at the moment to grab market share. 

Fernandes, on the other hand, is all about the bottom line. He has defied the odds before with the setting up of AirAsia 20 years ago. Can he do it again?

Read more about it in The Edge Malaysia weekly DigitalEdge's April 12 edition.

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