AirAsia will try to reduce airfares but ‘have a heart’, says Fernandes

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (right) speaking to reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Monday (Dec 4).

KOTA KINABALU: Tan Sri Tony Fernandes says AirAsia will try to reduce its airfares but concedes it would be challenging given the rising oil prices and strong US dollar.

The chief executive officer of Capital A Bhd, AirAsia’s parent company, also called on people "to have a heart" as the budget airline recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

"Despite the losses in revenue, our airfares are still substantially cheaper compared to others," he told reporters after an event at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here on Monday (Dec 4).

Fernandes said 92% of their domestic flights consisted of low-season airfares, adding deal flights were also offered throughout the year.

"But also have a heart on us, we lost RM4bil last year (and) last quarter we lost RM400mil.

"I can’t control the price of oil. The US Dollar is very strong - 75% of our costs are in Dollars. So when it is strong, my costs go up.

There had been numerous calls, particularly from those in Sabah and Sarawak, for airlines to offer cheaper flights, especially during the festive seasons and school breaks.

Last month, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government would continue offering fixed fares for airline tickets during festive seasons.

He said that similar to what had been practised during festivities this year, the government would encourage airline operators to add more frequency to cope with the demand for travel.

Fernandes said increasing flights would help, but airlines would need all the help they could get for this to happen.

He said returning all of AirAsia’s 200 planes from storage would not be easy.

"So, that’s where we need financial support. Yes, capacity helps, but that’s why we talk about costs, right?

"(Like) don’t use aerobridges, we want simple facilities, all kinds of things that help us reduce costs.

"We’ll continue to work hard to try to bring down fares, but we need the airport to help," he said.

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