AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Tony Fernandes expects the airline’s earnings to recover to the pre-COVID-19 level in a few months when Malaysia’s border gradually reopens. He told reporters on Wednesday (10 November 2021), after the announcement of Colin Currie’s appointment as AirAsia chief commercial officer.
The CEO projects that it will take AirAsia six to nine months to recover to the pre-pandemic levels. This is in view of the vaccination rates, COVID-19 pill, herd immunity, as well as the border reopening of both Singapore and Thailand.
I don’t control border reopening. If the border is fully reopened, and we don’t have PCR tests and quarantine, we will get back in about three months.AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes
According to Fernandes, the demand for flights is there but it depends on the government decision on reopening the border. The international border reopening is crucial as the rebound of aviation and tourism industries in the Asia Pacific is lagging behind Europe and the United States.
Commenting on the opening of the Malaysia-Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) on 29 November 2021, he believes it would be the beginning of an exciting future for Malaysia and Singapore.
Fernandes also hopes for an easier and simpler VTL protocol as both countries have done well in their vaccination programmes.
However, the group’s CEO expressed that the three weekly flights between the Malaysia-Singapore VTL would not be sufficient as the Singapore route is the busiest in the world.
Hopefully, as people get more confident, they (will keep opening up).AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes
Meanwhile, AirAsia is now managing 700 flights compared with only 66 flights in September.
According to Fernandes, AirAsia intends to rehire its furloughed staff when the travel and aviation industry improves.
My goal now is to get everyone’s salary back to normal, within the next month, and those furloughed to come back in January.