airasia Super App, Google Cloud tie-up to unlock digital growth

With Google, we will expand the platform into an entire ecosystem that will not only be transactional, but be about building community, says Fernandes 


AIRASIA Super App has signed a five-year collaboration with Google Cloud to advance its vision of a co-innovation ecosystem that all businesses and developers can partake in to serve the daily needs of people in the region. 

Both parties will combine core competencies to nurture technology talent, co-create software tools for open innovation, deliver data-driven intelligence on behalf of micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on the platform and ensure accessibility for diverse users in cities and rural areas, according to airasia Super App. 

The digital travel and lifestyle platform — which operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines — is part of Capital A Bhd’s digital pillar and has 51 million active users. 

The platform offers flight and hotel bookings, e-commerce, food and parcel delivery, ride-hailing, financial and health services, on-demand education and more, anchored by an integrated rewards programme and mobile wallet. 

Since its inception in 2020, airasia Super App has become one of three unicorns headquartered in Malaysia, according to Credit Suisse. 

Capital A Group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes said from the time the group started with two planes till the present as the fourth-largest airline in Asia, the AirAsia brand’s focus has always been on serving the underserved. 

He added the group may be late in the game, but with the Super App as the centre of its ecosystem of e-commerce, logistics and fintech, the group is determined to give all 680 million people in Asean inclusivity, accessibility and value. 

“With Google as our partner to take our digital journey to the next stage, we will expand the platform into an entire ecosystem that will not only be transactional, but be about building community, and 

enriching that community with market-ready technologies and resources to engage more users — not just the customers but partners like restaurants, airlines, hotels and drivers. 

“What we are doing is not evolutionary but revolutionary and I’m excited to prove to the world how airasia and all of Capital A’s assets will transform Asean and deliver value,” he said during a virtual media briefing of the airasia Super App and Google Cloud partnership last Friday. 

The strategic collaboration and ecosystem-building efforts will encompass four pillars — namely fostering an agile culture and co-innovation talent engine, ensur

ing seamless user access anytime and anywhere on any device, unlocking data-driven insights to fuel MSME growth and empowering partners and developers to co-innovate and contribute. 

airasia Super App CEO Amanda Woo said to benefit everyone across South-East Asia’s heterogeneous communities, the airasia Super App must be simple and easy-touse while underpinned by inclusive design, interoperability and personalisation. 

“It’s crucial we leverage Google’s rich experience in building global platforms and ecosystems to equip and engage more talent, entrepreneurs and partners who can provide even more tailor-made solutions that fit users’ lives. 

“What we are announcing is just the beginning, and we look forward to exploring further co-innovation initiatives with Google, whether in digital travel planning, self-driving cars, cloud gaming, start-up investment, or supporting frontline workers through Google Workspace,” she noted. 

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian highlighted that super-apps are helping small businesses thrive and stimulate economies. 

He added the World Economic Forum estimates that 70% of new economic value generated in the next decade will be driven by digital platform business models. 

“airasia Super App is an inspiring example of a company that’s innovating using cloud-first technologies to better reach and serve their customers. 

“We’re proud to be working with Fernandes and his team to further develop talent and an open innovation ecosystem to meet diverse digital lifestyle needs across SouthEast Asia,” he said. 

On a separate matter, Fernandes said 2023 will be a good year for Capital A to return to profitability, although the aviation industry is the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said with the borders reopening on April 1, the group expects there will be a lot of pent-up demand for travel and the carrier will have most of its fleet flying by the end of the year. 

“We are now trying to get as many aircraft back in the air as possible, and that would be 200 aircraft. 

“We are also doing very well in the Philippines and Indonesia, which is a big bonus, and in some ways Covid-19 has given us a break in those two countries. 

“I am not sure if we will be profitable this year (2022), but I am very confident that 2023 will look very good,” he said during a press conference after the airasia Super App and Google Cloud partnership announcement. 

Capital A narrowed its net loss to RM3.12 billion in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2021 (FY21) from RM5.11 billion in FY20. 

Revenue in the year shrank to RM1.73 billion versus RM3.27 billion previously, according to a filing to Bursa Malaysia. 

The group noted 58% of its fullyear revenue came from its aviation segment and the balance 42% from its digital business.