AirAsia sees green shoots, upbeat on recovery trajectory

by BERNAMA/ pic credit: newsroom.airasia.com

AS THE domestic travel and tourism industry slowly bounces back, the world’s best low-cost airline AirAsia said it is experiencing green shoots for a promising recovery after being severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

AirAsia.com CEO Karen Chan (picture) said although the journey might be tough, the airline company would ramp up efforts accordingly to attract more customers while realigning its business priorities from travel to businesses related to local consumption.

Chan said AirAsia.com’s customer research has found that close to 45% of travellers want to travel immediately and flight searches on its website have increased by more than 150%.

She said the company’s domestic travel promotions have been very well-received, selling over 250,000 seats in June and it would continue to ramp up capacity.

“During end-May to early-June, we were only flying a single-digit percentage…last month we started ramping up to 20%-25% and now in July going forward, we are looking at close to 40%-50%.

“With restrictions on activities being lifted, we hope to achieve a load factor of between 70% and 80% by the third quarter,” she said.

Chan said the real determinant for the aviation industry lies in the safe and efficient reopening of borders.

If the positive rebound in domestic travel is any indicator, international travel should follow the same trajectory once travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are lifted.

Given the interconnected nature of the Asean economy and that tourism collectively represents 15% of the GDP of the five largest Asean countries, AirAsia is looking forward to the reopening of borders, she said.

Managing Covid-19-related flight disruption is an issue airlines worldwide have had to handle. As for AirAsia.com, Chan said one of its core values is being “guest-obsessed” — taking care of customers is the airline’s utmost priority and some of the measures taken include ramping up its customer service capabilities.

“At the height of the disruption, we were handling 10 times our ordinary volume of customer queries. It was almost half a million a day.

“We quickly increased our capabilities through automation (AVA chatbot) and 1,800 All-Stars from other functions across the group who volunteered to help,” she said.

Another measure was the flexibility in changing travel plans where the airline offered credit shell, free rescheduling and mandatory refunds based on country regulations. AirAsia has also provided repatriation flights for Malaysians stranded overseas.

Chan said AirAsia’s flight change fees initiative, which offers enhanced flexibility for guests travelling up to Dec 31, 2020, with a flight change fee waiver, would remain on the table despite the number of Covid-19 cases gradually decreasing, domestic travel resuming and soon-to-be-opened international borders.