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Monday, May 27, 2024

Vaccines roll out in Asean, Asia and globally speeds up world travel recovery – AirAsia Group CEO

AirAsia welcomes news of COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out across Malaysia commencing from this week, as the first key indicator of a global travel reboot in the near future.

AirAsia’s key international markets are also progressing well with the vaccination programme including Indonesia, Singapore, China and Australia, while other regional countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are scheduled to begin their vaccination programme by the first quarter of this year.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said: “After a year of uncertainty, it’s great to see that this extremely challenging chapter is finally coming to a close.

“AirAsia has spent the travel downtime period to put in place rigorous digital initiatives and innovative technologies that would make air travel even safer and more seamless post-COVID-19. Better testing, leisure travel bubbles, anti veil medicines and importantly, digital health passports providing a single tool for health records across Asean and beyond, are also coming soon, to support the global travel recovery.

“I am confident that AirAsia will recover faster than many due to our low cost model, position in the market and the fast-tracking of our digital transformation to become Asia’s leading travel and lifestyle superapp, which has helped to mitigate adverse effects from the pandemic.

“We have been through our fair share of crises in the past including starting out just after 9/11, SARS bird flu epidemics, tsunamis and earthquakes to name a few, but COVID-19 has by far, posed the most challenging situation we have ever experienced.

“Never before has there been such a restricted global travel environment. After a year of strict cost containment including exiting Japan and reducing our stake in India, finally there is light at the end of this very long tunnel.

“I remain optimistic we will achieve our fundraising target of RM2.5 billion. The first tranche of the private placement of up to 20% of the total issued shares of AirAsia Group Berhad’s was completed last week, with 11.07% placed out, raising a total of RM250 million. This clearly reflects the solid market and investors confidence in the company.

“We are working towards obtaining approval for the loan under the Danajamin PRIHATIN Guarantee Scheme within the next month. Concurrently, we have positive ongoing discussions for other fundraising support measures in many of our key markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines which we will announce in due course. Other capital raising and financial support measures are being considered, including capital raising for our digital entities. We expect further clarity to be reached on all funding efforts by the end of March.

“Through all of this, I am honoured to have led our incredibly resilient Allstars through what has been the most difficult of times and now I’m so excited to lead them through the recovery as we reinvent ourselves as the travel, tech and lifestyle super app of choice for Asia. We can look forward to a gradual recovery in 2021 in all of our key markets and potentially a full recovery within the next two years.“

AirAsia has used the downtime in flying in 2020 to fast track its digital transformation to become more than just an airline including the introduction of numerous new products that provide new revenue streams including the airasia super app, logistics, e-commerce, fintech, as well as new procedures and innovations such as biometric facial recognition to make flying more hygienic and contactless.

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