KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — AirAsia Group Bhd is recovering well from the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry, having seized the opportunity to relook at opportunities that it had not been able to do earlier and accelerated its digital transformation, said group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

The group saw the situation as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recharge its business, and started to focus on Asean, relook at its cost structure and do away with businesses that did not make sense, he said.

“With the digital platforms such as the super app, fintech and food business going pretty well, we are now at the end of the tunnel and excited on the diversified businesses that are coming in,” he said at the Youth Economic Forum (YEF) 2021 during a virtual session titled “Road to Recovery: Turning Crisis Into Opportunity”.

On the efforts in diversification, he said the group also planned to launch air taxi service in one and half years, apart from the e-hailing service in April.

“The air taxi will have a pilot and four seats. At the moment, we have our team working on this upcoming service by AirAsia,” he explained.

Besides that, Teleport, the logistics venture of airasia Digital, will launch the Urban Drone Delivery Sandbox in a partnership with Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre. This pilot project for the delivery of goods from the group’s e-commerce platforms using automated drones will be carried out through a six-month phased approach in Cyberjaya.

Fernandes said Teleport would make it faster, cheaper and more accessible for everyone to move goods, especially the small and medium enterprises, across Malaysia and worldwide.

He also expressed optimism on the gradual international border opening that is likely to take place in July or August.

“We will start seeing some border opening in July and August, and hopefully that would return the world travelling to normal.

“I went through various epidemics, wars and disasters throughout the journey. People like to somehow travel, especially with low-cost travel being the better option,” he added.

The budget carrier’s net loss widened to RM851.78 million in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2020, compared with RM51.44 million a year earlier, but it was lower than the RM992.89 million loss recorded in the second quarter. — Bernama