Global Economy

AirAsia CEO says its mobile payment app will give Alipay, GrabPay 'a run for their money'

BigPay is a part of AirAsia’s strategy to develop new businesses that can generate additional income for the airline as it weathers through market headwinds.

Other projects include the development of an e-logistics platform called RedCargo, according to Fernandes.

“We are now in this big digital adventure, which we think will add a lot to our bottomline,” he said. “That will cover some of these pressures.”

Those pressures include higher oil prices, volatility in the currency market and a shifting sentiment among travelers on the back of projected economic slowdown in major economies such as China. But Fernandes explained that during times of economic slowdown, people gravitate towards low-cost carriers and take shorter breaks.

“I’ve seen in times of pressure, actually people want to travel more to get out of some of the realities of life, and low-cost carriers do that,” he said.

When asked about the recent crash of a Lion Air flight that has renewed concerns around the safety of low-cost carriers, Fernandes said it’s “a little unfair” to blame budget airlines.

“We don’t know what happened, we don’t know whether it was a manufacturing fault or Lion Air fault or whole lot of other issues,” he said, adding that safety is a marathon. “No airline can say they’re safe. It’s a continual process of being better and better and better, and mitigating those risks.”


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