Besides operating a low-cost airline, AirAsia Group is aiming to be Asia’s largest food delivery and eHailing company. According to its Group CEO Tony Fernandes, he is confident that AirAsia SuperApp can become one of the biggest food delivery as well as ride-hailing companies and online travel agency in Asia. This comes after AirAsia acquired food delivery platform, Delivereat via Teleport, and Gojek’s Thailand operations last year.
During a press conference in Penang, he told reporters, “When (I started) AirAsia, I always wondered if we can become the biggest airline, and we did. We are the fourth biggest airline in Asia…We started with only two planes, 200,000 passengers, and now we have grown to 90 million passengers.”
He added, “So I sit back and think can we become the biggest food delivery company and ride-hailing company? Today, I officially say, I think we can…I think we’d go out there and (outgrow) existing competitors the same way we outgrew other airlines.”
The low-cost carrier chief said he is looking forward to expanding AirAsia SuperApp’s full services to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines in the near future.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, airlines worldwide including AirAsia were badly affected due to restrictions imposed on air travel. During the travel lockdown, AirAsia expanded its offering by transforming its brand into a SuperApp to compete with the likes of Grab, GoJek, and WeChat. Apart from flight and hotel bookings, the app now offers Food, Grocery, eHailing and Express goods delivery services in Malaysia.
While it is great that AirAsia is giving a much-needed competition in the local food delivery and eHailing space, they have a long way to go to compete with dominant players such as Singapore-based Grab and Indonesia-based Gojek. AirAsia acquired Gojek Thailand at a time when Gojek wanted to shift its focus to Singapore and Vietnam instead after the merger between Gojek and Tokopedia.
AirAsia SuperApp CEO Amanda Woo told Nikkei Asia in an interview that AirAsia Ride bookings in Malaysia are now doing more than six digits per month and they have 30,000 drivers on the network. She said the eHailing service now covers all major cities in the country and they are looking at dominating the region like its airline business. It is reported that Grab commands over 72% of Malaysia’s eHailing market share as of 2020.
Recently, the price of AirAsia shares on the KLSE slid to as low as 59 sen after it was classified as a Practice Note 17 (PN17) company. A company with a PN17 status may face delisting if it fails to regularise its finances within a time frame. It has applied to extend the relief period but it has been dismissed by the securities exchange. Meanwhile, its long-haul airline, AirAsia X, is still undergoing a debt-restructuring process.