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AirAsia have announced that they have pledged to keep on all current employees, despite 96 percent of their fleet being grounded due to COVID-19 global travel restrictions. The airline is currently receiving no financial revenue and, due to this, is having to reduce any costs where possible. Unlike most airlines right now, however, this does not include standing down or laying off their 20,000 employees.

AirAsia have ongoing financial responsibilities of which they have committed to continue paying, including fuel suppliers and leasing agents.

Both AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and Chairman Kamarudin Meranun have agreed to not receive any salary at this point in time to limit the rising costs for the airline.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and flight attendants at Malaysian F1 Grand Prix. Source: Krishna N. Das, Yahoo News

“Kamarudin and I will not be taking a salary during this period and Allstars from across the business have accepted temporary pay reductions of anywhere between 15-75%, depending on seniority, to share the impact this is having on our business,” Fernandes shared in an Instagram post on the 11th of April. “I thank them for their sacrifice and in keeping the big picture in mind as we navigate this together.”

Cost-cutting plans are in place to save the airline

Additional changes to the airline include the encouragement of customers accepting credit over refunds in exchange for cancelled flight tickets. Credit will be valid for 365 days and customers will be able to change flights dates however many times necessary. If a refund is desired, this will have to be applied for and may take up to 16 weeks to be processed.

More than 80 percent of customers have accepted the offer of credit in exchange for previously booked flight cancellations. 1,800 staff from other areas within the airline have been working on the virtual platforms including LiveChat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and WeChat to resolve an increased influx of customer queries, of which have been 10x more than usual with 500,000 customer queries coming through daily.

The good news: there may be a light at the end of the tunnel amid airline concerns for the future.

AirAsia flights to resume soon

AirAsia are now set to resume domestic flights scheduled from the 29th of April in Malaysia. Further flight continuations continue for Thailand and the Philippines on the 1st of May, India on the 4th of May, and Indonesia on the 7th of May. These flights can already be booked on the AirAsia website and through the app, where the credit from cancelled flights can be used. The flights, of course, are still subject to government approval.

The plan is for the resumption of domestic flights to be the leading move for international flights making a comeback, once travel restrictions are eased when the global crisis is under control.

96% of AirAsia fleet are currently grounded. Source: TTR Weekly

AirAsia President, Bo Lingam, said in a recent statement: “We are very pleased to be able to fly again and to serve our guests, starting with domestic routes, and hope to resume full operations as soon as possible. We have undertaken a thorough review of our guest handling procedures both on ground and onboard in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been working closely with the airport authorities to ensure that all the relevant precautionary measures are in place to ensure a safe, pleasant, and comfortable journey for everyone.”

Some customers may still raise concerns regarding their safety if they were to fly in the near future with AirAsia. Lingam stressed that the airline will be keeping the safety and wellbeing of guests at the forefront of their priorities. They will be constantly working with their “regulators, local governments, civil aviation, and health authorities, including adhering to guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to ensure the highest standards of compliance and conformance are in place for every single flight”.

Despite cost-cutting measures, Fernandes has ensured AirAsia customers that the airline will remain to be “the world’s best low-cost carrier.”

Your flight plans may not be as far away as they seem, folks!

What are your thoughts? If travel restrictions are lifted, will you be flying any time soon? Let us know in the comments!

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