According to AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes, international travel is expected to resume soon despite progress being slowed by the omicron variant.
“I think we’re at the beginning of the end,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Monday, noting that the recovery has already started in earnest.
“The good thing is that at this time last year we didn’t have any planes in the air. Now we have a large part of our fleet that flies to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. “he said, adding that the demand has been” very, very robust. “
International travel will return to pre-Covid levels around six months after the start of the reopening of the borders, he predicted, and said he hoped the borders would start opening again in March.
After a wave of announcements about non-quarantine travel to Asia last year, several countries, including Thailand and India, have reinstated restrictions on some arrivals, as omicron increases the number of cases.
Fernandes also acknowledged that China continues to be a “big issue” in terms of reopening, given the country still pursues its zero Covid policy.
AirAsia’s call service
Separately, Fernandes said the company’s ridesharing business has performed “incredibly well” and “far exceeded” expectations since its launch in August 2021.
He said AirAsia’s strategy was “exactly the same” used when the company entered the low-cost airline market years ago – high efficiency that translates into lower prices for airlines. consumers.
As a late participant, AirAsia Ride was able to observe which models were successful and didn’t have to spend a lot of money on research, development or technology, he said. He also acquired part of the activities of the Indonesian start-up Gojek in Thailand.
“The market is still very, very under-penetrated,” Fernandes said. “There is a huge, huge benefit.”