AirAsia Group – controlled by Malaysian tycoons Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun’s Capital A Berhad – said its airlines’ first-quarter traffic across Southeast Asia nearly quadrupled, adding to signs that a recovery travel is well underway as governments across the region ease Covid-19 restrictions.
The group carried 3.75 million passengers in the three months to March 31 across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, up from 976,968 a year ago, Capital A said in a statement. Thursday. This increased AirAsia’s overall load factor from 67% to 76%.
As travel demand recovers, AirAsia is also gradually restoring its fleet, increasing the number of its planes to 152 in the first quarter from 149 a year ago. At the same time, the carrier is mounting more flights, increasing its overall capacity by 238% to 4.94 million passengers at the end of March.
Other Asian carriers, including billionaire Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines, have also reported improved traffic in recent months. To ensure a sustainable recovery, AirAsia has called on governments in the region to further ease remaining travel restrictions.
“It is sad to see that some of our air fares are cheaper than the Covid-19 tests required by many countries in Asia, which makes the overall cost of air travel burdensome for most of the ordinary travelers we serve” , Bo Lingam, Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, said in a statement April 18. “Testing requirements, including the number and type of tests involved, must be constantly reviewed to ensure they remain relevant, without burdening travelers or compromising public health.
Airlines have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with governments around the world imposing shutdowns and restricting cross-border travel to curb the spread of the virus since 2020. Global airlines will lose nearly $12 billion this year after suffering about $190 billion in losses in the past two years, according to estimates by the International Air Transport Association.
As AirAsia sank deeper into the red, the airline shifted its focus to digital businesses and its Kuala Lumpur-listed holding company was renamed Capital A to reflect its expanded portfolio which now includes fintech as well as food and package deliveries. The goal is to create a super app that will rival Southeast Asian tech titans such as Indonesia’s GoTo and Singapore’s Grab and Sea Group.
Fernandes and Kamarudin took over AirAsia in 2001 to build a low-cost carrier that would make air travel affordable. The partners dropped the 2020 ranking of Malaysia’s 50 richest people.