Airlines should start diversifying their businesses to survive post-pandemic

WHILE the Malaysian Government has gone some ways in helping its aviation industry tide through the COVID-19 crisis, airlines should also find a way to survive without relying too much on government support at the cost of taxpayers’ monies.

One tested and true method of going about this, as AirAsia Group Bhd has demonstrated, is by diversifying their businesses. Using the pandemic to recharge its business, the airline group seized the opportunity to relook at business ventures that it had not been able to do earlier.

More accurately, the pandemic has accelerated its digital transformation, and as a result, opened up new opportunities for its non-airline businesses such as its F&B venture, Santan.

Despite the pandemic, there are currently nine Santan outlets in the Klang Valley. The airline’s official online ticketing platform, too, underwent a major transformation in October 2020 and has expanded to offer various products and supports.

The application, touted a ‘super app’, now includes an ecosystem of new services that include food delivery, grocery delivery, and even online shopping in addition to the standard listing of flight tickets and hotel rooms.

On the efforts in diversification, AirAsia Group Bhd CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has also recently divulged the group’s plans to launch air taxi services in one and a half year, apart from e-hailing services in April this year.

By and large, it takes more than just luck for the aviation industry as a whole to recover from the pandemic. Digital transformation is an essential survival tool, as AirAsia would tell you. For those without such contingency planning, the road to recovery will most likely be longer.

While the recent rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is a positive step forward for the aviation and travel industries, nobody can say for sure when both will fully recover.

For now, the best way to deal with the situation is for airlines to innovate their business models, and diversifying their businesses, it seems, is a good start. – Mar 9, 2021

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