AirAsia Move aims to be top low-cost online travel agency

AirAsia Move aims to be top low-cost online travel agency

Mrs Omer at a press conference of AirAsia Move. She says that AirAsia Move is the only OTA that have the e-wallet and its users can use a royalty program to gain more discount.
Mrs Omer at a press conference of AirAsia Move. She says that AirAsia Move is the only OTA that have the e-wallet and its users can use a royalty program to gain more discount.

AirAsia Move, the online travel platform of AirAsia, aims to be the top low-cost online travel agency (OTA) in Thailand by next year and Southeast Asia by 2026, says chief executive Nadia Omer.

Thailand is the second-largest market for AirAsia Move and will be No.1 in the future, she said.

"The platform's new strategies focus on our strengths while making travel accessible and affordable for everyone," said Mrs Omer, who was appointed to the post in October last year.

AirAsia Move, formerly known as airasia Superapp, aims to increase both its user base and average spend per user.

The company plans to launch its BigPay e-wallet in Thailand in April, beginning with a payment service for travellers before offering savings and loan services later.

She said AirAsia Move is the only OTA with an e-wallet, while its users can use a loyalty scheme to gain more discounts.

"The online travel sector in Southeast Asia is worth US$30 billion. We have a 7% share and the leader needs to gain a 15% share," said Mrs Omer, adding AirAsia Move plans to launch an initial public offering in the future.

She said in order to become the market leader, the company needs more airline partners, mainly in Europe, combining the best flight deals with hotels.

The app will also have to increase transaction rides to airports and hotels, as well as add more duty-free shopping, said Mrs Omer.

"In a nutshell, we will increase bookings by users and then increase revenue by bookings," she said.

The majority of the app's revenue stems from airlines, but the contribution from hotels will increase rapidly.

AirAsia Move serves Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Monthly active users last year totalled 15 million, with 2.4 million in Thailand.

"We are not burning money to make a profit, with gross business value at 116 billion baht in Asean and 40.4 billion in Thailand as of 2023. This year we aim to double the number users in Asean and in Thailand," she said.

The company plans to introduce app-exclusive pricing on March 28, offering travellers better value for money to book on the app instead of the website, along with a host of other benefits such as the ability to book flights and hotels together for a lower price.

The app-exclusive pricing offers at least 1% cheaper ticket prices for AirAsia flights, said Mrs Omer.

Another new offering is the Asean International Pass, a monthly subscription-based ticket expected to go on sale March 25.

The pass enables users to redeem seats on international flights along Asean routes operated by AirAsia for a full year.

She acknowledged the challenge of high fuel costs, but lower airfares will enable carriers to earn more from ancillary services.

When airlines have vacant seats, this model can keep airfares low, maximising occupancy, said Mrs Omer. This enables airlines to tap new targets such as retirees, youngsters and freelancers.

"We are focusing on core competitiveness and a sustainable business model," she said.

The company recently refreshed its brand and logo with a green colour scheme, including a new user interface and design on its app. The move depends on word of mouth and influencers, rather than mass media, said Mrs Omer.

Apirudee Prachyaset, country head of BigPay Thailand, said after its success in Singapore and Malaysia, BigPay obtained a licence from the regulator to provide services in Thailand.

The e-wallet will target travellers and be tied to its planned prepaid card issued by Visa, she said.

Users of BigPay do not need to pay a 1% fee for foreign currency conversion when they make purchases in baht from merchants and online shops registered outside the country, as AirAsia and BigPay have local entities in Thailand, said Ms Apirudee.

Recently local credit card issuers announced a dynamic currency conversion for payments in baht using Visa and Mastercard cards. The measure takes effect from May 1.

"People in Southeast Asia love travelling and the company needs to enable them to travel more by enhancing their financial management," she said.

Tourist arrivals to Thailand have yet to return to the record level set in 2019, but a more diverse range of travellers are visiting.

Thai tourists are visiting Chiang Mai and Phuket, as well as South Korea, Japan, Bali, Europe and the US.

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