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AirAsia: Vaccination progress sparks optimism

AirAsia on Monday said it welcomes the news of the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across Malaysia this week, saying it is a “first key indicator” of a global travel reboot in the near future.

AirAsia noted that its key international markets are also progressing well with the vaccination program including Indonesia, Singapore, China and Australia.

Other regional countries, such as Thailand and the Philippines, are scheduled to begin their vaccination program 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.”

Fernandes expressed confidence that AirAsia will recover faster than many due to its low-cost model, position in the market and the fast-tracking of its digital transformation to become Asia’s leading travel and lifestyle super app, 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.”

Fernandes also said he remains optimistic that the airline will achieve its fundraising target of RM2.5 billion. The first tranche of the private placement of up to 20 percent of the total issued shares of AirAsia Group Berhad’s was completed last week, with 11.07 percent placed out, raising a total of RM250 million.

“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.”

“Through all of this, I am honored 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 said it has used the downtime in flying in 2020 to fast-track its digital transformation to become more than just an airline. It introduced 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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