AirAsia teams up with Google Cloud to become travel tech company

Tony Fernandes said AirAsia has been at the forefront of adopting new digital technologies since its inception in 2001. — Reuters pic
Tony Fernandes said AirAsia has been at the forefront of adopting new digital technologies since its inception in 2001. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Low-cost carrier AirAsia will be incorporating Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into every aspect of its business with its partnership with Google’s cloud computing platform, Google Cloud.

This will be an instrumental part of the airline’s transformation into becoming a travel technology company, it said in a statement to announce the partnership.

Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said AirAsia has been at the forefront of adopting new digital technologies for the past 17 years.

“We are now in our next phase of development where we are expanding beyond air transport and digitalising our operations and processes to become more efficient,” he said in the statement.

Fernandes added that AirAsia is in the midst of building two big platforms — a one-stop travel site airasia.com and a lifestyle site Big Life.

He explained that the main site would act as a platform where customers can make various bookings including flights, accommodation, tours, ground transport and entertainments, while Big Life will provide other services like those offered by Kayak, Tripadvisor, Groupon and eBay.

“Big Life will incorporate all the digital investments under our digital arm RedBeat Ventures, such as our money app BigPay, our inflight connectivity platform ROKKI, our online marketplace Ourshop and our logistics services RedBox and RedCargo.

“Both platforms will help drive much more business into AirAsia with the help of data,” he said.

Meanwhile, Google Cloud chief executive officer Diane Greene said AirAsia will now be able to digitise every aspect of its business with the assistance of Google’s advanced analytics platform and machine learning services.

This, she added, would ensure the airline’s customers get the best services.

The AirAsia-Google Cloud partnership would also help tackle high-impact business challenges.

It is expected to drive better demand forecasting and more targeted marketing, improve customer experience and loyalty by providing a more personalised experience and maximise operational efficiency and reduce risk through predictive maintenance, real-time weather forecasting and crew optimisation.

The airline’s technical team will have a chance to work with Google Cloud engineers in business problem-solving, while gaining a solid foundation in AI with Google Cloud’s state-of-the-art TensorFlow and Cloud Machine Learning Engine.

“AirAsia will be able to enrol its technical teams in the same programme Google Cloud uses to train its engineers, allowing the airline to build on its own internal machine learning expertise,” the statement added.

AirAsia will also utilise G Suite and Chrome Enterprise to create an agile digital experience that will provide access to data and analysis when and where they are needed for faster, more informed decision-making.

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