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AirAsia expects to recover faster than rivals

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd, which reported a fourth quarter net loss of RM2.44bil, says it is well-prepared to solely rely on domestic operations this year should the country’s borders continue to remain closed.

The company, which reported a revenue of RM267.44mil for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31,2020, said it remains focused on turning this crisis into an opportunity.

The carrier said it would further strengthen its domestic position at this juncture as it awaits developments regarding international air travel.

“Throughout 2020, we focused on turning the crisis into an opportunity. We accelerated our digital transformation strategy to boost our non-airline contributions to the group. We have used the downtime in flying to lay the foundations for more robust operations post-pandemic and put in place the right platform for a sustainable and successful future by rebranding ourselves as more than just an airline with the AirAsia super app, ” said AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes in a statement.

The airline said it has a leaner and optimised operation and expected to recover faster than many of its competitors.

“The group has reviewed every aspect of our operations and made great strides in establishing a leaner and more optimised airline operation as we prepare for an expected surge in demand post-pandemic, ” it said in its financial statement.

Moving forward, AirAsia said it is expecting to see improved stability in its operations as vaccinations continue to be rolled out in phases across all key markets coupled with better education and testing.

It hoped for strong support for leisure travel bubbles among low-risk countries and territories, along with the push for global digital health passports.

Commenting on the airline business performance for the quarter, AirAsia said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was in the red to the amount of RM2.13bil from a positive ebitda of RM337.7mil in the same quarter of the previous year.

“Revenue for the airline business for the fourth quarter was RM233.4mil, as capacity reduced by 88% compared to the previous year’s same quarter mainly as a result of the lower capacity in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia as international borders remained closed, ” AirAsia said.

It, however, noted that the Philippines had doubled its passengers carried while Indonesia multiplied its number of passenger carried by 11 times from the previous consecutive quarter.

“The encouraging quarterly uptrend in our key domestic markets, especially in Thailand, supports our expectation of an air travel recovery this year. We are pleased to be gradually ramping up our domestic operations in our key markets, which are concentrated on the most profitable and popular routes. “We are also actively exploring opportunities to gain market share, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia, recognising our strength in the Asean region, ” Fernandes added.

He is optimistic that international air travel will resume in the second half of 2021, which will lead to its full recovery within the next two years.

One of the group’s priorities moving forward is to rehire previous staff that were let go during the pandemic. Fernandes said it is also proposing a long-term incentive scheme for employees to reward strong employee performance, support retention of talent and conserve cash at the same time.

AirAsia said its digital business segment has seen much changes compared to where it was a year ago.

“Teleport will soon be delivering vaccines in Malaysia and around the region. Teleport expects to convert two A320 aircraft into cargo only freighter and to expand on our partnership with other airlines to allow more cargo belly space availability, ” it said.

The group said that it is encouraged by the early signs from its digital transformation for the AirAsia app to become Asean’s super app of choice eventually.

“We expect our digital and non-airline revenues to contribute around 50% to the group in five years, ” AirAsia said.

The app offers over 15 different types of products and services leveraging off one another, including bundles for customers.

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2021/03/30/airasia-expects-to-recover-faster-than-rivals

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