AirAsia’s digital businesses to become Asean’s leading super app

AirAsia’s super app posted a 45% YoY increase in its revenue to RM10m during 1Q21

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

AIRASIA Group Bhd’s non-airline digital travel and lifestyle platform is now considered one of the region’s top three online travel agencies (OTAs), while AirAsia’s e-wallet BigPay is set to become the first virtual bank and its delivery service Teleport is strengthening.

During the group’s first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) financial performance announcement on May 27, AirAsia’s super app posted a 45% year-on-year (YoY) increase in its revenue to RM10 million, supported by solid growth of products and services available on the platform.

Teleport’s revenue tripled compared to its 1Q20 performance.

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes (picture) stated that just as the carrier revolutionised air travel 20 years ago in the region with its low-cost model, AirAsia now aims to disrupt and democratise the lifestyle industry through the development of its super app, with over 17 travel and lifestyle products leveraging off one another.

“In just over a year, we are now one of the top three leading OTAs in Asean based on website traffic, with over 100 million average page views monthly on airasia.com.

“In the future, when travel resumes in our key markets, we can guarantee best value prices for our flight and hotel packages because we own our airline,” he explained in a press release last Friday.

Expansion of its popular products and services in its Asean markets for its super app is in the pipeline.

“We are working on expanding our health services in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, while offering SNAP hotel and accommodation deals in Vietnam and Singapore in the near future,” Fernandes noted.

He added that Teleport is now delivering vaccines across Malaysia and the Asean region, and has created more than 4,000 delivery driver jobs in 17 key markets.

“We are also looking forward to converting passenger planes into freighters in the coming months to cater for unprecedented cargo demand,” he informed.

Fernandes added that the group has plans to improve its BigPay e-wallet service to become the best virtual bank in Asean.

“We are tapping into the full potential of our loyalty platform, BIG Rewards, to provide the best range for rewards and redemption in Asean and beyond.

“Through our digital ecosystem, we have already created thousands of jobs and supported more than 3,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia.

“Our training centre, AirAsia Academy (currently known as Redbeat Academy), offers affordable digital and tech training courses to equip not only our own employees, but also SMEs and members of the public, with skills to bridge the technology gap in Malaysia and beyond in this ever-changing digital world,” he explained. The group’s other non-airline businesses such as AirAsia Food, AirAsia Fresh, AirAsia Shop and its Santan franchise restaurants are also penetrating new markets.

“We saw the crisis as an opportunity to use the downtime in flying caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to leverage the strength of our database of over 60 million customers and to focus on developing new non-airline revenue streams in the key areas of e-commerce, fintech and logistics,” Fernandes commented.

In the pipeline are innovations such as ride-hailing “AirAsia Ride”, which will be launched in the coming months, as well as the potential of deliveries using drones.

The group is also planning for electric or hydronic aeroplanes to meet consumer’s sustainability needs.

In the airline business space, Asia Digital Engineering Sdn Bhd (ADE) aims to become one of the region’s best value aircraft maintenance and overhaul providers for both short-term line maintenance and longer-term base maintenance services, a space previously dominated by Singapore-based maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies.

“I firmly believe ADE will become the leading aircraft MRO company in the region in the near future, with significant potential growth opportunities in Asean and beyond with service excellence and lowest cost base,” he added.

AirAsia is also working to launch more contactless technologies to make flying a seamless and hygienic experience when it resumes.

This includes a digital passport called Scan2Fly where passengers can upload required medical documentation and have it verified in real time online before heading to the airport.

AirAsia will be introducing FACES, its biometric facial recognition technology, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 which will then be rolled out across all its key destinations.

“There is a silver lining to every crisis and the best thing to come out of this pandemic is our recovery as a stronger, more resilient travel and lifestyle platform — not solely reliant on airfares alone anymore,” said Fernandes.

The “new look” AirAsia, he noted, would be embarking on an exciting new phase of growth with the right focus and foundations to better meet the needs of the digital revolution.

Fernandes stressed the group will remain true to its promise to deliver high quality service and make it affordable to fly, stay, shop, eat and upskill.

AirAsia Group posted a net loss of RM767.42 million for 1Q21, as the group continued to suffer from the curbs on travel imposed by governments in many countries over the period.

Revenue fell to RM298.22 million in the period as passenger load factor slumped 90% to 976,968 passengers compared to 9.8 million passengers recorded in the same period last year across its main markets of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.