PARIS: AirAsia Group Bhd is waiting for approval from Bank Negara Malaysia for its new financial technology (fintech) programme, which is expected to be launched in three months’ time, said AirAsia Group CEO, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
Fernandes said the programme, dubbed as ‘’The Big’’, would enable banking and financial services as well as serve as a platform to process inflight purchases for over 60 million people on AirAsia flights annually.
“This would ease the purchasing process in the future, especially when AirAsia aims to achieve a record of 100 million customers flying with us by 2021,” he said in a press conference in conjunction with 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards on Tuesday.
He said at present, 25% of AirAsia flight bookings were made through online platform rather than manual system.
The award ceremony was a part of the 52nd International Paris Air Show held at Le Bourget Airport, France.
On Jan 3, AirAsia Bhd
has entered the fintech pool with the incorporation of a Singaporean Big Pay Pte Ltd.
While this is the group’’s first step into fintech, its BIG Prepaid MasterCard in partnership with MasterCard, which acts as a multi-currency wallet, has a virtual option, and is already in use as a loyalty card by AirAsia’’s frequent flyers.
Meanwhile, asked on plan for AirAsia India, Fernandes said, the company would increase the fleet size from current 10 aircraft to 20 by end-2018.
“About AirAsia India going on international route, we plan to see more flight frequencies from a city in India and fly directly to Bali and so on,” he said.
The Indian Civil Aviation Authority has decided in 2016 to amend its 5/20 rule to 0/20 rule.
The 5/20 rule has been implied on the commercial flights which requires carriers to complete five years of domestic operations and have a fleet of 20 planes to be considered for international operations.
Now an airline has to scale up its fleet up to 20 planes or deploy 20% of capacity on domestic operations, whichever is higher, to qualify for overseas flying.
Following the changes in the policy, carriers are no longer needed to serve the compulsory five years of domestic operations and a fleet of 20 aircraft before an airline can start international operations.
Now, airlines can fly abroad if they deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of total capacity, whichever is higher, for domestic operations.
On a separate update, Fernandes said, AirAsia would continue to focus on Asian route instead of rushing into long-haul journey.
India’s domestic air traffic market logged the fastest growth in the world for the 13th consecutive month in April 2016, of which the market grew at nearly 22% during the month.
India’s domestic traffic soared 21.8%, marking the 20th month of double-digit traffic growth and the 13th consecutive month it has led the domestic markets.
AirAsia Group has had aggressively expanding its network in Asian region, of which it is in the midst of setting up a unit in Cambodia. It has also sign a memorandum of understanding to establish a low-cost carrier in China as part of it strategy to enter the Chinese market.
At the same time, AirAsia continues with the impending joint venture plan in Vietnam, while AirAsia’’s newly set-up Japanese subsidiary is expected to start operations in the second half of this year.
To-date, AirAsia has business in Thailand, the Philippine, India and Malaysia. - Bernama