AirAsia to help revive tourism, starting with Langkawi

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd has yet to decide on rehiring or reinstating retrenched employees when the Langkawi travel bubble commences, according to AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat.

Riad said the group definitely needs more people when the number of weekly flights to Langkawi increases or when there are some indications of green shoots after tough years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We require more pilots, cabin crew, and manpower on the ground as flights resume. We are monitoring on a daily basis and hopefully if the trajectory goes as positive as I think it would next year, definitely, we will be able to reoffer and reappoint them (retrenched staff),” he told reporters at the virtual press conference of Langkawi travel bubble and launch of AirAsia Super App products today.

The group has retrenched 10% of its 24,000-strong workforce since the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

“It is difficult for us to predict what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks or months. We have forecast and plans going forward and have plans for 2022, but it all depend on the decisions of policy makers (and the state of the pandemic).”

Riad said almost 200,000 flight tickets have been sold since the island is slated to be reopened under the tourism bubble programme beginning tomorrow.

“On the first day (of the announcement) 30,000 flight tickets to Langkawi were sold,” he said.

AirAsia said the Langkawi travel bubble which has been well received by Malaysians since it was announced, will be a catalyst for the revival of tourism and the group intends to play a strong role in further solidifying the return of travel.

“As a start, AirAsia Malaysia will be resuming its flights to Langkawi with 90 weekly flights departing from Kuala Lumpur (63 times weekly), Penang (14 times weekly), Johor Baru (seven times weekly), Ipoh (three times weekly) and Kota Baru (three times weekly). Our flights in September and October are selling fast and we remain confident this momentum will continue.”

The airline has robust procedures in place to maintain safety standards at all times and AirAsia has been recognised as one of the first airlines worldwide by aviation experts at to achieve the highest seven-Star rating for its stringent Covid-19 safety measures.

The AirAsia Super App is collaborating with the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) to offer a new digitised and contactless duty-free shopping experience which will see an island-wide and same-day delivery across Langkawi hotels by the end of this month. Soon there will also be a full spectrum of fulfilment from inflight seat delivery, airport pickup apart from hotel and home delivery with 13 Asean retailers on board with AirAsia’s duty-free offerings.

AirAsia Super App CEO Amanda Woo said the app which offers e-hailing service with the recent launch of Airasia Ride would be operating in Langkawi starting this Thursday.

“The digitalisation of duty-free shopping in Langkawi through our app will power Langkawi up as the Asean’s first online duty-free shopping destination. By the end of September, for the first time in Malaysia, customers can now order Langkawi duty-free products online and have them delivered straight to their hotel within the same day via Teleport’s six-hour express service.”

Lada CEO Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib cited data provided by Malaysian Associations of Hotels that bookings for four- and five-star hotels have reached 50% occupancy rate.

“For hotels which are three stars and below, booking figures are still low, standing at around 20% to 30% currently, mainly due to the promotional price offered by four- and five-star hotels,” he said, adding that the island’s target is to receive 400,000 visitors in three-and-a-half months.

Nasaruddin said the Langkawi bubble tourists need not to apply for interstate travel permit from the police.

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