AirAsia sees Covid-19 vaccine rollout as shot in the arm for global travel recovery


PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd has welcomed the news of Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out across Malaysia commencing this week, as the first key indicator of a global travel reboot in the near future.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said 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.

He pointed out that better testing, leisure travel bubbles, anti veil medicines and importantly, digital health passports 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, 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,“ said Fernandes.

AirAsia’s key international markets have also progressed 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.

Fernandes remained optimistic that it will achieve its fundraising target of RM2.5 billion. The first tranche of the private placement of up to 20% of the total issued shares of AirAsia was completed last week, with 11.07% 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. 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 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,” he added.

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