MANILA, PHILIPPINES — AirAsia Philippines has gained a stronger footing versus its pre-pandemic domestic market share as it bids farewell to 2021, maintaining its optimism for sustained growth momentum in the coming year. The world’s best low-cost airline has grown its domestic market share to 19 percent this year, climbing 3.5 notches up from its 15.5 percent share in 2019.
The low-cost airline has also peaked at 95 percent load factor over the course of the recent holiday period, while ending December at 88 percent – both record-high figures over the past 1.5 years. In the month of December, AirAsia Philippines ranked third most popular airline in terms of flight bookings among AirAsia territories, following Malaysia, and Thailand.
Triumph over Challenges: Celebrating the 2021 Wins
The past year came with its own set of challenges– from new COVID-19 variants to stricter travel restrictions. However, it wasn’t a year without some major wins. AirAsia has shown resilience throughout the year through strategic mitigation strategies that included new revenue streams, budget management, and diversification of offerings.
With the downtrend in commercial flights in the first half of the year, AirAsia was quick to identify new revenue streams which include chartered flights for passengers and cargo. In 2021, for instance, AirAsia safely mounted 619 chartered repatriation and sweeper flights and reunited 50,000 people with their families and loved ones. This has helped defray upkeep costs to ensure the viability of the company.
AirAsia has also observed that domestic travel is gaining stronger momentum in the recent year-end quarter, mostly because of the low positive infection rate and daily case count. In the first half of the year, the majority of airline bookings were done within 0 to 3 days, mainly for essential travel. But recently, the airline has witnessed a significant increase in bookings for travel 1 to 3 months in advance– a telltale sign of growth in leisure travel and stronger consumer confidence. AirAsia Philippines has also recorded a 15 to 20 percent increase in bookings for near-term travel within 30-60 days over recent times.
AirAsia has also resumed its flight operations to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, servicing Overseas Filipino Workers and business travelers in these countries.
Accelerated Digitalization Amid the Pandemic
AirAsia Philippines has digitized multiple customer touchpoints and integrated several services in its airasia Super App. On the app, guests can now book their hotels and flights together in great value bundles through its SNAP feature. They can also do digital check-in at least 24 hours before their flight. And soon, boarding will be more seamless through the Philippines’ first facial recognition system FACES, which is set to be implemented in the first quarter of 2022 for employees and second quarter for guests.
The world’s best low-cost airline has also broadened its digital payment channels – forging stronger partnerships with mobile wallet giants GCash and Paymaya. The fast-growing reliance of Filipinos on mobile wallets has been observed by AirAsia Philippines which has grown its e-wallet transactions to 13 percent of total business, quadrupling its 2019 number of three percent.
The airasia Group’s digital business has been recently valued at over USD 1 billion within two years, making it achieve digital Unicorn Status in record time, as reported by Credit Suisse. While the pandemic wreaked havoc on the aviation industry, non-airline verticals were fast-tracked in airasia which has transformed into one of the top three ASEAN tech unicorns.
A Look into 2022: AirAsia Seeing a Better Normal
There is strong pent-up demand for travel and Filipinos are ready to get back in the air. And compared to the previous two years, all stakeholders – airlines, government units, and customers – are now much more conscious of the key strategies and measures needed to properly approach traveling amid the pandemic. The country is now better equipped to face any new variants and potential surges.
AirAsia is also closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, but the airline is confident that its multi-layered safety protocols, the 100 percent vaccination of its crew, the presence of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in its aircraft, and the shared culture of safety and vigilance spells optimum performance moving forward, amid the pandemic.
In 2022, AirAsia Philippines has three main priorities: Cash availability and cash management to support recovery strategies enroute to profitability; Sustainable cost management and rationalization to operate commercial flights e.g. fuel, repairs and maintenance, airport charges, ground services, staff and staff-related costs, marketing, and other operating costs; expansion of its domestic presence from 14 destinations (2021) to 18 (2022) and to grow regional routes by exploring opportunities in the Middle east, United States and Australia.
AirAsia Philippines is highly optimistic that with improved synergies between the national and local governments, and the intensified vaccination program of the country, more Filipinos will be enticed to travel again. Filipino travel behavior in 2022 will still center on safety, while also including key considerations like contactless customer touchpoints, affordability, and leisure travel with tightly knit groups like visiting families and friends.
AirAsia Philippines joins the entire aviation community in hoping and planning for a stronger 2022 as it believes that domestic tourism will be one of the major pillars of economic recovery post-pandemic.