KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Budget airline AirAsia is optimistic about global travel resuming amidst the vaccines rollout in Malaysia, as well as in some of its key markets.
Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the nationwide COVID-19 vaccines rollout commencing this week is the first key indicator of a global travel reboot in the near future.
“After a year of uncertainty, it’s great to see this extremely challenging chapter finally coming to a close,” he said in a statement today, adding that its key international markets, such as Indonesia, Singapore, China and Australia, are also progressing well with their vaccination programmes.
Additionally, Thailand and the Philippines are scheduled to begin their vaccination programmes by the first quarter of this year, he said.
Fernandes said the airline 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-pandemic.
“Better testing, leisure travel bubbles, anti-veil medicines and digital health passports providing a single tool for health records across ASEAN and beyond are also coming soon to support 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.
On capital-raising for its airline businesses, Fernandes said the group is on course to achieve its target of RM2.5 billion through a combination of debt and private placement of shares.
“The first tranche of the private placement of up to 20 per cent of the total issued shares of AirAsia Group Bhd was completed last week, with 11.07 per cent placed out, raising a total of RM250 million.
“We are also working towards obtaining approval for a loan under the Danajamin PRIHATIN Guarantee Scheme within the next month,” he said.
Last year, the government had announced the guarantee scheme as one of the initiatives under the Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) to help businesses weather the after-effects of COVID-19.
It consists of a RM50 billion guarantee scheme which covers up to 80 per cent of the loan amount for financing working capital requirements.
Fernandes also said the group’s ongoing discussions for other fundraising support measures in their key markets have been positive.
“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 March,” he said.