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AirAsia CEO expects world to open up soon as Covid-19 vaccines roll out
NationalFeb 23. 2021
By THE NATION
Now that Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out in many countries, Malaysian-based budget carrier AirAsia sees this as a clear indicator of a global travel reboot soon.
The airline’s key international market, namely Indonesia, Singapore, China and Australia, have kicked off inoculation programmes, while other regional countries like Thailand and the Philippines are expected to start vaccinating people within the first quarter of this year.
“AirAsia has spent the travel downtime 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,” AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said.
“I am confident 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 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, 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.
“I remain optimistic we will achieve our fundraising target of 2.5 billion ringgit. The first tranche of the private placement of up to 20 per cent of the total issued shares of AirAsia Group was completed last week, with 11.07 per cent placed out, raising a total of 250 million ringgit. This reflects the solid market and investors’ confidence in the company.
“We are working towards obtaining approval for a loan within 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,” Fernandes said.
AirAsia has recently introduced several 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.