AirAsia playing a big role in tourism: Dr M
Published on: Sunday, August 18, 2019
By: James Sarda
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KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad acknowledged AirAsia’s significant contribution to Malaysia’s tourism sector since starting operations in 2001 besides creating numerous milestones along the way and being a trendsetter in air travel.

The Prime Minister said the evolution of low-cost carriers in the region has been quite phenomenal and that AirAsia’s role in this was obvious.

He is confident that the emergence of new technologies in the aviation industry would further propel AirAsia to improve its standing as one of the world’s leading brands.

“I was informed that this is the centre of AirAsia’s operations across the Asia Pacific and congratulate AirAsia for spearheading the budget air travel revolution in this region,” he said, when visiting the AirAsia headquarters known as Red Q or Red Quarters, a stone’s throw from the Terminal Two which it operates.

Mahathir said his last visit to the LCCT (low-cost carrier terminal) was in 2011 and was proud of the Malaysian success story the airline has become.

It not only emerged as the world’s best low-cost carrier for the 11th time at the Skytrap World Airline Awards this year but was also briefed that its headquarters even matched those of Google and Facebook.

“Obviously this is not the usual office. There is no partition between the staff and heads. Even the top management don’t have partitions,” he said, adding in jest that he thought it was because AirAsia had no money to install partitions. 

“It reminded me of a phrase that was meaningful to me at one time, i.e nothing to hide,” he quipped and hoped AirAsia would continue to remain open and transparent.

He noted that AirAsia sets many firsts in the industry such as being the first to sell flights online when the rest of the industry was still using travel agents, the first in Asia to have a mobile app and engage in social media seriously, the first to implement self-service facilities including check-in kiosks, self-bag tag and self-bag drop machines.

“Today it is taking its guest experience one step further by showcasing the possibility of future air travel and digital airports in line with Industry 4.0 that involves enhanced connectivity and automation which leads to the creation of smart autonomous systems fuelled by data and machine learning that are more efficient and less wasteful.”

He was confident that AirAsia’s innovations like AVA (Airasia Virtual Allstar, AI-powered Chatbots and Faces (Fast Airport Clearance Experiencei) will help propel the industry into the future and hoped to see all these creative innovations in all airports.

Mahathir also hoped that the new technologies would help AirAsia to continue to put Malaysia on the map as the nation forges ahead with 4.0.

“The potential for growth is tremendous and it comes down to knowledge in applications.”

Mahathir said businesses should not only arm themselves with new knowledge but also take risks to apply this new-found knowledge to create new products and services to boost productivity and efficiency.

In this, he was glad to note that AirAsia was constantly challenging itself in its quest for continuous improvement and innovation.

As a word of advice, he said success will always bring higher expectations and place one under more scrutiny.

“If not careful and unable to meet and resolve some of the more reasonable expectations and criticisms, it may turn against you.

“Its all about managing success and this is what AirAsia should give much consideration,” he said, adding that if it remains focussed and innovative, AirAsia is destined for even greater heights.

Earlier at the presentation, guests were briefed on how AirAsia grew from just two planes serving two domestic routes in 2011 to 260 planes and over 390 routes across the Asia-Pacific and US with some 600 million people having travelled on it.

It also prides in being one of the largest recruiters of women pilots, now numbering 220.

Among those present were Transport Minister Anthony Loke, AirAsia x Chairman Tan Sri Rafidahn Aziz, AirAsia Group Exec Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.


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