Tycoon Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia To Expand Fleet Amid Post-Pandemic Recovery
AirAsia Group—controlled by Malaysian tycoons Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun—plans to resume taking new aircraft deliveries from 2024 onwards as it seeks to expand its fleet amid a post-pandemic recovery in air travel demand.
“We will be taking delivery of the new Airbus A321 neos from 2024, which will further reduce our emissions per seat by 20% while further driving our business growth,” Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia parent Capital A, said in a statement on Friday. Formed in January this year, Capital A has been diversifying with the addition of logistics and digital businesses that include ride hailing and food deliveries.
On Friday, Capital A said the group’s revenue increased to 2.3 billion ringgit ($512.4 million) in the year ended June 30 from 710 million ringgit a year ago as AirAsia’s revenue jumped nearly fivefold to 1.9 billion ringgit. “The aviation group is looking forward to the continued ramp up of air passenger demand,” Bo Lingam, group CEO of AirAsia Aviation, said in the statement.
With the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions in most Asian countries, AirAsia benefited from the revival of international air traffic as well as increased domestic demand in Malaysia, boosting the group’s overall load factor to 84% as of end-June. To cope with rising demand, AirAsia said it has been gradually redeploying its fleet, with a total of 108 of its aircraft returning to the skies as of August and an additional 52 aircraft becoming operational by the end of this year.
Despite the improvement in the group’s revenue, Capital A remains in the red with a net loss of 2.2 billion ringgit in the year ended June 30, compared with 1.7 billion ringgit in the previous year, amid inflationary headwinds arising primarily from a surge in jet fuel prices.
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Airlines were among the hardest hit by the pandemic as governments around the world imposed lockdowns and restricted cross-border travel to curb the spread of the virus in the past three years. Global airlines are expected to return to profitability next year after losing some $189.5 billion in the three years since the depths of the pandemic in 2020, according to estimates by the International Air Transport Association.
“The V-shaped recovery of the travel industry and economy which we previously anticipated has significantly benefited both our airline and non-airline businesses,” Fernandes said. He and Kamarudin took over AirAsia in 2001 to build a low-cost carrier that would make air travel affordable. The partners dropped out of last year’s ranking of Malaysia’s 50 Richest people.