AirAsia will continue to boost health guidelines despite COVID-19 vaccines

AMID fanfare over COVID-19 vaccine arrivals in Malaysia, AirAsia expressed confidence that it would reboot the global air travel industry in the near future.

And despite the vaccines, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his airliner had established several measures such as better testing, leisure travel bubbles, anti-veil medicines and digital health passports.

“They will serve as a single tool for health records across Asean and beyond. They are coming soon, to support the global travel recovery.

“I am confident that AirAsia will recover faster than many due to our low-cost model, position in the market and the fast-tracking of our digital transformation to become Asia’s leading travel and lifestyle superapp, which has helped to mitigate adverse effects from the pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Yesterday, the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Malaysia at 10am. It was carried on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH604, an Airbus 330-300 aircraft operated by MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASKargo).

The arrival of the passenger-to-cargo (P2C) flight, carrying 312,390 doses of the vaccine was welcomed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, along with Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Fernandes said that he was happy that the vaccines have arrived, hoping the extremely challenging chapter of global aviation would finally come to an end soon.

“AirAsia has spent the travel downtime period to put in place rigorous digital initiatives and innovative technologies that would make air travel even safer and more seamless post-COVID-19,” he said.

Reminiscing the past, Fernandes said the airline industry went through many challenges, such as the 9/11 terror attack, SARS epidemic and earthquakes.

However, COVID-19 proved to be the most challenging situation to the airliners and the world, in general.

“Never before has there been such a restricted global travel environment. After a year of containing costs strictly, including exiting Japan and reducing our stake in India, finally there is light at the end of this very long tunnel,” he stated.

On generating funds, Fernandes said that he was optimistic that AirAsia will achieve its fundraising target of RM2.5 bil.

The first tranche of private placement that goes up to 20% of the total issued shares of AirAsia Group Bhd was completed last week, with the 11.07% placed out, raising a total of RM250 mil.

He added that AirAsia is also in the process of obtaining a loan under the Danajamin PRIHATIN Guarantee Scheme within the next month.

“Concurrently, we have positive ongoing discussions for other fundraising support measures in many of our key markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines which we will announce in due course.

“Other capital raising and financial support measures are being considered, including capital raising for our digital entities. We expect further clarity to be reached on all funding efforts by the end of next month.

“This clearly reflects the solid market and investors’ confidence in the company,” Fernandes remarked. – Feb 22, 2021

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