Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Technology

AirAsia Announces New CEO for Superapp Business

12 months ago

AirAsia on Tuesday announced the appointment of Mohamad Hafidz, who is currently the chief fintech officer, as the acting CEO of AirAsia superapp from April 1 onwards. 

With nearly 30 years in the payments industry, Hafidz, populary known as Mo, will be succeeding Amanda Woo in his new role.

Woo was appointed CEO of the superapp in May 2021, she was then the chief commercial officer.

Speaking to Skift earlier, Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, had said that AirAsia would now be killing its other operations in the superapp to focus on what he calls its bread and butter — travel.

“Now that travel has returned, we’ve shifted our focus to making the superapp very much a travel fintech superapp,” Fernandes told Skift.

In his new role, Hafidz would continue to drive the platform’s fintech vision that will further help to boost the superapp’s choices for its users and bring more revenue to the business, the company said in a release. 

Having assisted in shaping regulatory policies in several regional markets, Hafidz has been a strong advocate for payments innovation and security in the Asia Pacific region.

Hafidz’s appointment follows the recent leadership transition announcement at AirAsia Digital, which include AirAsia superapp and BigPay.

Colin Currie will be taking on dual roles as AirAsia Digital’s CEO and president, commercial of Capital A.

Currie will lead the effort to forge a closer collaboration between AirAsia superapp and BigPay to create a better user experience in travel and payment for users within the Capital A ecosystem, a company release said. 

Capital A also appointed its head of investments John Cheing as the chief financial officer for AirAsia Digital and AirAsia superapp.

Calling fintech an essential part of travel, Fernandes had earlier spoken about the role that BigPay, Capital A’s fintech arm, would play in creating lending for travel as well as for insurance.

In its fourth quarter results, the company had showed strong performances in both its superapp and fintech business.

“We are excited to be launching the next phase of growth in our digital portfolios,” Fernandes had said earlier.

Airlines

AirAsia Parent CEO Wants to Pull Its Airlines Into an IAG Model

1 year ago

Malaysia’s Capital A will not be merging its airlines, but will instead move all the carriers under one existing structure, similar to how British Airways, Iberia Airline, and Aer Lingus operate under the International Airlines Group umbrella, said CEO Tony Fernandes on Monday.

AirAsia X will be renamed AirAsia Aviation Group and there will be six airlines under it — AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Philippines, and AirAsia Indonesia, as well as AirAsia X Malaysia and AirAsia X Thailand.

“We are just injecting AirAsia airlines into AirAsia X’s listing status, there is no merger,” Fernandes told the media.

He said that each airline would continue to operate independently.

Fernandes made the statement to the media on the sidelines of the launch of Capital A’s upgraded subscription service — Super +.

AirAsia had earlier launched the flight subscription service in March to provide unlimited flights to destinations across Southeast Asia. Monday’s launch will now include destinations in Japan, Korea, Australia, India, Maldives, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.

Capital A has launched two versions of the subscription service — Super+ Lite, which covers unlimited flights across all Southeast Asian destinations very similar to the version launched in March, while the Super+ Premium includes all countries operated by the AirAsia airline group, including long-haul destinations.

The lite version is priced at $203, while the premium option comes at $524.

“Till date, over 100,000 Super+ subscribers have redeemed over 500,000 flight seats across Southeast Asian destinations,” Capital A said in a release.

While flight bookings opened from Monday, the earliest flights that subscribers could opt for was from January 1, 2023.

“This is what we have been preparing for — the return of travel, and we are excited about the reopening of markets like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and more to come in the near future,” Fernandes said.

Travel Technology

Yanolja Profit Rises as Travel Rebounds in Korea and Asia Pacific

1 year ago

Yanolja said this week it expected that a post-pandemic rebound in international travel will continue to boost its twin businesses of online travel sales via a superapp and software sales to hotels and other travel companies. The South Korea-based startup has made progress on both ambitions since 2011, when it received a $1.7 billion investment from the Softbank Vision Fund in a transaction that valued Yanolja at the time at approximately US$9 billion.

The privately held travel company in South Korea reported this week some of its financial results for the third quarter, saying it had experienced “high growth rates in all business areas.”

Yanolja recorded consolidated sales of approximately $147 million (192.2 billion Korean won) in the quarter, a 112 percent jump from the same period a year.

Unlike many travel startups, the company is profitable. Yanolja reported an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, of about $8.1 million (10.6 billion Korean won).

Roughly half of the company’s growth has been partly driven by its software business, which had a 32 percent year-over-year increase to $71 million in sales in the quarter. For more context on the travel software sales, see Skift’s story Decoding Yanolja Cloud and Its Hotel Software Strategy.

The mid-sized company said it has been staffing up for roles in product management, software engineering, and user experience design, and has cash on hand to make acquisitions.

Jongyoon Kim, CEO of Yanolja, will discuss the company’s overall strategy and business performance at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on December 14. Kim joined Yanolja in 2015 as chief strategy officer and in 2021, was elevated to CEO. He has previously worked at McKinsey & Company, Google, and 3M. Many industry analysts wonder if Kim will be able to guide the ambitious tartup to a successful initial public offering someday, and if so, when.

Airlines

Capital A Wants to Merge AirAsia and AirAsia X

1 year ago

Malaysia’s Capital A has submitted plans for a corporate restructuring, which will involve the merger of its low-cost airline AirAsia with long-haul carrier AirAsia X.

The company will set up a new division, called AirAsia Aviation, which will be run by Bo Lingam, who is currently president, airlines and group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group Limited.

Capital A will then also include two other portfolios: the digital businesses and the logistics plus aviation services. They will be managed by Captial A CEO Tony Fernandes, who stepped down as acting group CEO of AirAsia X earlier this month.

The group also wants to carry out a separate “spin-off listing” in the future for the aviation services businesses of Capital A.

The corporate restructuring is designed to help it exit its “PN17” status, given to it by Bursa Malaysia, Malaysia’s stock exchange, which classifies it as a financially-distressed firm.

“We were at the sharp end of Covid, as were many airlines around the world, but we are coming out of it stronger than before — our airlines and network are fast returning to pre-pandemic levels, and our digital businesses are performing better than many had expected,” Fernandes said in a statement.

“While our PN17 status remains an accounting issue and does not accurately reflect the business viability and prospects of Capital A, we have nevertheless worked very hard to develop a plan to address the PN17 status as a key part of our post-pandemic recovery journey.”

Capital A aims to submit its proposal to Bursa Malaysia for approval in February 2023.

Formerly known as AirAsia Group, Capital A has become an investment holding company with a  portfolio of business that includes its airasia superapp, which saw monthly active users reach more than 10.6 million in the second quarter of this year. It also operates fintech firm BigPay.

AirAsia X recently resumed flights between Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Airlines

Tony Fernandes Steps Down as Acting Group CEO of AirAsia X

1 year ago

Tony Fernandes has stepped down as the acting group CEO of Capital A’s long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X citing “other commitments,” the airline announced in a note to investors on Monday.

“I’m now going to focus on delivering significant value to shareholders of Capital A, including the AirAsia Aviation Group, aviation services, logistics, travel, fintech and the e-commerce lifestyle platform,” Fernandes said in a press statement.

Having served as the non-independent non-executive director of AirAsia X, Fernandes stepped in to the role of acting group CEO in July this year.

Mahmood Fawzy has now been appointed as the independent non-executive director of Thai AirAsia X.

AirAsia X had entered a court-overseen debt restructuring process during the pandemic. The airline completed the debt restructuring in March.

Fernandes, in a press statement, mentioned that his job had been to restart AirAsia X and bring it back to profitability and growth after the hibernation. “I am happy that this has been accomplished with a very edifying plan for 20 aircraft for the AirAsia XGroup — 13 aircraft for AirAsia X and seven for Thai AirAsia X.”

He went on to note that following the restructuring the airline has improved the cost structure, and created a cargo business, which has contributed about 20 percent to the airline’s revenue during the pandemic and will continue to play a vital role in its recovery.

The airline in a statement in August had noted that it would be ramping up flight frequencies and would return to daily services to most destinations before 2023, with optimised aircraft utilisation of 15 hours by December.

Airlines

AirAsia Superapp Topped 10 Million Monthly Active Users in the Second Quarter

2 years ago

As travel recovers in Southeast Asia, the AirAsia superapp saw the ranks of its monthly active users reach more than 10.6 million in the second quarter with an assortment of services, Capital A stated Monday in releasing the airline group’s preliminary operating statistics.

AirAsia Super App. AirAsia

On the digital front, the AirAsia superapp saw its monthly active users rise 236 percent year over year to more than 10.6 million in the quarter that ended June 30, and that represented a 70 percent jump compared with the first quarter. Category leader Grab in Singapore had about three times the number of users in the first quarter, which was the latest statistics available.

Capital A, formerly known as AirAsia Group Berhad, said the rise in its monthly active users can be attributed to “the strong return of travel” and efforts to attract new users for the mobile app.

Capital A

Transactions, boosted by increases in flights, ridesharing, the Kiwi.com-powered booking of airlines outside the group, and the company’s subscription discount service Super+, rose 524 percent to nearly 4.9 million in the second quarter.

The release of these preliminary operating statistics did not include revenue numbers or transaction values.

Capital A’s BigPay fintech offering, with new products such as the DuitNow QR code merchant payments and money transfers, saw the number of customers with an active card increase 62 percent year over year to more than 1.2 million.

The company’s logistics business, Teleport, saw its cargo tonnage fall 27 percent year over year because of the tough lockdowns in China that began in March. Deliveries, however, soared 630 percent year over year to 1.15 million because of a new e-commerce platform that the company began using during the second quarter, Capital A said.

Malaysia-based Capital A said its passenger numbers in the second quarter leaped 633 percent, and its load factor of 84 percent was its highest since 2020.

Online Travel

Hopper Fintech Products Now Being Bought by 70 Percent of Its Ticket Bookers

2 years ago

A fascinating interview with Hopper founder and CEO Frederic Lalonde on A16Z’s Future, with a deep dive on his thinking about superapps in travel and Hopper’s potential path into becoming one. In it, a nugget that now 70 percent Hopper’s revenues are coming from their add-on fintech produces, AND 70 percent of ticket bookers through Hopper’s app and site are now adding one or more these products to their shopping cart as part of the buying process, the average being 1.7, according to Frederic.

From the interview:

“With technology, if you’re able to predict things, if you’re able to create a digital experience, in principle, you should be able to cancel out every possible risk that you face when you travel. It turns out that A) you can, and B) that almost everybody has one thing that they worry about when they travel — some people care about prices, others care about arriving on time, some people just are worried the hotel is going to suck. But nobody worries about everything going wrong. Today, at least one of these add-ons are attached to 70% of the travel transactions we sell. When customers buy them, they average 1.7 per booking.”

On his superapp-in-travel ambitions: “I believe it’s a Western anomaly that Amazon isn’t into travel, that Facebook doesn’t sell anything, and that Snapchat does no e-commerce. I think it’s because we’re used to a Western construction for older people that is slowly getting eroded. And just like QR codes, just like text, as people adopt the technologies, we’re going to become more and more Easternized.

It stands to reason that either one of the travel companies will add high-frequency purchases to what they’re doing. We’re one contender for that. Or a high-frequency app that does delivery, like Uber, will get into travel. Or one of the e-comm companies is going to get into travel. It has to end with a couple of companies that offer a lot of things, and travel is just one thing.”