While trying to deal with the impact of the novel coronviru pandemic on the travel industry, the founder of AirAsia – Tony Fernandes, is building an app that he hopes will transform into the next “super app” for the region.
The app that he plans to develop will be an all-in-one app for food delivery, shopping, payments, entertainment and travel and he wants the app to compete with the likes of Grab, GoJek and WeChat in the Asian market.
While air travel had virtually stopped because of the pandemic and his planes are grounded, the boss of the airline has been exploring new ways to generate income.
The pandemic has hit his airline hard because of the pandemic as it has laid off about 30 per cent of the staff.
During the lull in air travel and business because of the pandemic, Fernandes has been focusing on further improving the AirAsia app as well as the payments platform of the company BigPay, said the airline boss in an interview to the BBC.
“The downturn was a blessing in disguise in some ways as it allowed us to focus more on it. Running an airline takes up a lot of our time but we have been given the opportunity and time to focus on our digital business,” he said.
Apart from booking tickets, currently the AirAsia app also offers its users a messaging service and now Fernandes wants to create a super app in lines with that of Singapore-based Grab, Indonesia’s GoJek and China’s Meituan.
“AirAsia has always been a digital company. We were one of the first airlines to sell online. It’s in our bloodstream,” added Fernandes, who is also a major shareholder of English football club Queen’s Park Rangers (QPR).
“I know a super app sounds like a lofty target but Grab and GoJek also started out small as food or mobility apps. Plus people also questioned me the same way when I said I wanted to start AirAsia.”
The airline that started off very small, AirAsia has now become the largest budget carrier of Asia.
In partnership with Universal Music, its own record label called RedRecords was launched by AisAsia last year. The aim of that project was to find out singing stars from South East Asia who will appeal to a Western audience.
Already, millions of followers across social media has been generated by the first major signing, Thai pop star Jannine Weigel.
“Boy have we got something special with the record label. The Koreans have shown how Asian music can appeal to a global audience with K-pop and there is huge potential for South East Asia.”
“This also helps us engage with a younger audience and gives lots of content for our app.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)