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Thursday, 22 June 2017

(The Star) AirAsia to launch its own version of Alipay soon

PARIS: AirAsia will be launching its own version of the Alipay mobile wallet payment for the low-cost carrier’s in-flight transactions soon in its bid to recreate itself as a digital airline.

The cashless transaction is expected to be launched in the next two to three months, announced AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Simply titled “BIG”, Fernandes said the airline wanted to remove cash off the plane with the cashless transaction modelled after China’s Alipay.

It aims to also start its own version of a money transfer service for their customers who transfer money to other countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, he said.

“These are some of the products created as part of our One AirAsia concept where we want to move towards a truly Asean community airline and use technology to drive more value,” he said at a press conference after attending the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2017 here on Tuesday.

AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the ninth year in a row and the Best Low-Cost Airline in Asia at the event – dubbed the Oscars of the aviation industry – held at Muse de lAir et de lEspace at Le Bourget Airport here.

AirAsia Group cabin crew head Suhaila Hassan, who has been with the company for 20 years, accepted the award, flanked by AirAsia ambassador David Foster and Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos during the award ceremony, which saw 71 awards given away.

With the low-cost airline cruising well, Fernandes said the only thing missing in the equation is the presence of low-cost airports.

He believes that once they come into play, at least 100,000 to 200,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created.

“For the first time we are getting some traction with Cabinet ministers and prime ministers (in the region) beginning to understand low-cost terminals.

“That’s the kind of thing I am going to keep pushing for,” he said, adding that AirAsia has created some 200,000 jobs across the board including in hotels and tourism sectors with 100,000 of those held by Malaysians.

On the award wins, Fernandes said being the nine-time world champion is a new record for Asean as a whole.

“To put it into perspective, Brazil won the FIFA World Cup five times, Michael Jordan was NBA champion six times and Michael Phelps holds the record for most first place finishes at a single Olympics with eight gold medals.

“Think about it, how many world champions does Malaysia have? AirAsia is a world champion,” he added.

Meanwhile, AirAsia’s long-haul sister airline AirAsia X bagged the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Cabin and World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Class Seat awards for the fifth straight year.

The accolades were received by AirAsia X chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

The Skytrax Awards are the global benchmark of airline excellence with over 19.9 million customer surveys completed worldwide by more than 105 nationalities, measuring standards across 49 key performance indicators of an airlines frontline products and services.

AirAsia and AirAsia X have won a combined 25 Skytrax World Airline Awards since the awards were introduced in 2001.

AirAsia is Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried, with an extensive network covering more than 120 destinations in 26 countries across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and the US.