AirAsia Group CEO says airline on the mend with 60pc capacity on short-haul flights

AirAsia Group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his airline is seeing 60 to 80 per cent capacity on domestic flights in Malaysia and in neighbouring Thailand. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
AirAsia Group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his airline is seeing 60 to 80 per cent capacity on domestic flights in Malaysia and in neighbouring Thailand. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Budget airlines like AirAsia appear to have the advantage over full service airlines in the Covid-19 era, especially on short-haul routes. 

AirAsia Group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his airline is seeing 60 to 80 per cent capacity on domestic flights in Malaysia and in neighbouring Thailand.

“I can only speak from AirAsia’s perspective, I think business travel, intercontinental travel, first-class travel is going to take longer to rebound.

“But short-haul travel has been proven already with our domestic routes like in Thailand and Malaysia, we are at about 70 per cent load capacity. 

“Thailand is about 80 per cent pre-Covid and Malaysia is about 60 per cent pre-Covid, that is my only yardstick,” he told reporters during a briefing on AirAsia’s launch of its digital platform, AirAsia Digital, at Nu Sentral here today.

Fernandes was asked his forecast for the airline industry in the current world economy that has been crippled by many countries closing off their borders to international travellers to contain the virus.

When asked whether AirAsia would consider conducting “flights to nowhere”, also known as boomerang flights, as conducted by Qantas Airways Ltd, Fernandes said he is not keen on such practices.

He added that he prefers flights to have an intended destination and touted the strong demand for domestic flights to top tourist destinations in the country such as Langkawi.

AirAsia Group Bhd recently recorded a net loss of RM992.89 million in the second quarter ended June 30, 2020 (2Q20), against a net profit of RM17.34 million in the same quarter last year.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many countries announced lockdowns and border restrictions, the low-cost airline group’s revenue plunged by 96 per cent to RM118.96 million from RM2.92 billion previously.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, the group said 42 per cent of its revenue was contributed by cargo and logistics operations.

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