AirAsia aims to launch 'flying taxis'

AirAsia aims to launch 'flying taxis'

CEO Fernandes seeking more ways to get people using its 'super app'

AirAsia Group chief Tony Fernandes says the pandemic has been a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to recast your business”. (Reuters File Photo)
AirAsia Group chief Tony Fernandes says the pandemic has been a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to recast your business”. (Reuters File Photo)

KUALA LUMPUR: The regional budget airline AirAsia is seeking to launch an app-powered flying-taxi business as soon as next year, according to co-founder and chief executive Tony Fernandes.

“We are working on that right now. I think we are about a year and a half away from launching,” Mr Fernandes said on Saturday during an online discussion as part of the Youth Economic Forum.

With the airline business taking a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, AirAsia has been expanding in the digital space. It launched a “super app” last year that offers services from travel and shopping to logistics and financial services.

“We took it as an opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to recast your business, re-look at things,” he said.

AirAsia expects to start its own e-hailing services for rides in April, Mr Fernandes said. The flying taxis it hopes to begin providing next year will come with as many as four seats and will be powered by a quadcopter, he added.

Separately on Saturday, the company announced that it was partnering with a state agency called the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre to develop an urban drone delivery service.

While AirAsia is looking for further opportunities to expand its services into new areas, Mr Fernandes is optimistic that air travel will soon rebound with the rollout of vaccination programmes. The group offers low-cost flights linking 22 countries, mostly in the Asia Pacific region.

“I hope interstate travel will start in the next two to three weeks” within Malaysia, he said. He expects international borders to start opening in July or August.


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