As it prepares to debut first virtual idol, AirAsia drifts even further from flying

AIRASIA Group Bhd owes its shareholders a logical explanation as to how the group’s first virtual idol, Aozora Kurumi, can boost the performance of the budget carrier.

This is given many shareholders/investors, stock analysts and the financial media fraternity – not to mention the tens of thousands of passengers seeking refund for flights that never took off – should be forgiven for assuming that the company’s share price performance is tied to how the company fare in the aviation industry.

As of yesterday, FocusM has listed down three research houses which based their assessment of AirAsia strictly on the aviation sector – all with “sell” rating with target prices of 5 sen (CGS-CIMB Research on March 30), 21 sen (MIDF Research on April 28) and 70 sen (Hong Leong Investment Bank [HLIB] Research on May 4).

While acknowledging that the management has been building up momentum on its super-App segment, HLIB Research opined that it does not expect material contribution from the super-App in the near term given it is “unable to cover the expected huge losses from airline segment”.

Therefore, AirAsia has to dig deeper to convince the aforementioned stakeholders as to how prioritising Aozora Kurumi to usher in a new age of streaming content in Asean is a better option to flying even as its aviation business is affected by travel restrictions due to surge of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia and regional countries of operation.

Or how selling beauty and financial products or the Harumanis mangoes via its e-commerce-cum-digitalisation platforms can boost its turnaround, thus enabling the airliner to return to the black in its FY2021?

Anyway, let us allow some room to understand Aozora Kurumi better. According to AirAsia, the virtual idol is part of its Project Kavvaii, a programme to discover and develop the next big virtual idol in Asean that was launched earlier in March.

Clad in a Victorian-style outfit with her trusted pet Jetson, AirAsia expects Aozora Kurumi to generate exciting online content in gaming and lifestyle categories with live broadcasts while participating in engaging online and offline activities in the near future.

Aozora Kurumi’s debut is set to stream on YouTube on May 8 at 8pm (GMT +8).

At the close of today’s morning trading, AirAsia was up 0.5 sen or 0.58% to 86 sen to 4.03 million shares, thus valuing the company at RM3.28 bil. – May 5, 2021


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