AirAsia CEO says international travel will bounce back strongly despite omicron impact

International travel is more likely to get better quickly despite progress being slowed by the omicron variant, in response to AirAsia chief government Tony Fernandes.

“I do believe that we’re at the beginning of the end,” he instructed CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday, noting that the restoration has already begun in earnest.

“The good thing is, this time last year, we had no planes flying. Now, we’ve got a large chunk of our fleet flying domestic Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” he mentioned, including that demand has been “very, very robust.”

International travel will get back to pre-Covid ranges round six months after borders start to reopen, he predicted, and mentioned he hopes borders will begin to open once more in March.

After a flurry of bulletins about quarantine-free travel in Asia final yr, a number of international locations together with Thailand and India reinstated restrictions for some arrivals, as omicron drove up caseloads.

Fernandes additionally acknowledged that China continues to be a “big question” when it comes to reopening, provided that the nation is still pursuing its zero-Covid policy.

AirAsia’s journey hailing service

Separately, Fernandes mentioned the corporate’s journey hailing enterprise has accomplished “incredibly well” and “far exceeded” expectations since its launch in August 2021.

He mentioned AirAsia’s technique is “exactly the same” because the one it used when the corporate entered the low-cost airline market years in the past — excessive effectivity that leads to decrease costs for shoppers.

As a late entrant, AirAsia Ride may observe what fashions have been profitable, and didn’t should spend some huge cash on analysis, improvement or tech, he mentioned. It additionally acquired part of Indonesian start-up Gojek’s Thailand operations.

“The market is still very, very under penetrated,” Fernandes mentioned. “There’s a huge, huge upside.”

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