In a changing world, non-airline revenues have become a key growth driver

As the global COVID-19 pandemic has irreversibly changed the way we communicate, the way we travel and even the way we do business, digital platforms such as AirAsia.com are finding their feet. Its CEO Karen Chan stated the company’s top priority was to “maintain a growth trajectory amidst the slowdown in the economy” but anticipates that non-airline revenues will become the key growth driver and business priority.

How do airlines adapt when they are not able to carry passengers? The current global health pandemic has highlighted this issue, but companies like AirAsia are taking the opportunity of the coronavirus setback to diversify and prepare a substantial new line of business over the next few years. Its target is to achieve 50% of revenues from non-flying activities by the end of 2024.

AirAsia.com aims to become the fastest growing ASEAN super app – and the only OTA backed by an airline. The website can leverage unsold seats and can control the pricing of every single segment and route, 365 days out and partnerships are being formed with full service airlines as well as Ctrip, kiwi.com and more.

AirAsia has always been about “more than just an airline” explained Ms Chan in a recent interview with CAPA – Centre for Aviation founder and chairman emeritus Peter Harbison for CAPA Live – a monthly virtual summit, offering insights, information, data and live interviews with airline CEOs and industry executives across a next-gen virtual event platform.

“Right now, we are focusing on three strategic verticals. Travel is always in our blood, but apart from just selling AirAsia flight tickets, we are now selling any airline flight tickets, and we are actually in very serious discussion with quite a few full service carriers,” she said.

E-commerce is also an increasing focus, with the airline reskilling staff and taking advantage of their existing customers. “I think with COVID, home delivery is now a new way of life. It’s basically a new way of shopping, it’s also a new channel for revenue. And if we talk about online e-commerce, the linchpin for successful e-commerce is about last-mile fulfilment,” explained Ms Chan.

AirAsia now wants to be seen more as a lifestyle partner for customers. “We don’t really want to be seen as a frequent flyer programme anymore. We actually want to go and be seen as basically a lifestyle partner, whatever the consumer wants to do on airasia.com, we need to stay relevant. And points are going to be the new currency, whether you are actually online or whether you are actually in flight, you can now go and utilise points as cash,” explained Ms Chan.

You can watch Karen Chan’s full interview here:

CAPA Live screens on the second Wednesday of every month throughout 2021, bringing together thousands of aviation professionals to listen and interact with industry leaders. You can access the agenda and register for the latest edition and archive content here: CAPA Live

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