AirAsia Group Seeks to Restore ‘Nearly’ Full Capacity By Year’s End

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Malaysia-based AirAsia Group said it is aiming to restore its pre-pandemic flying levels by year-end as it continues to reopen routes and increase capacity.

“Currently, we are operating 168 flights weekly to 12 destinations across ASEAN, which is about 60% of our pre-COVID-19 flying,” Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group parent Capital A, said in a statement. “By the end of the year, I’m hopeful we will get to nearly 100% with more flights and the use of more, larger [Airbus] A330 widebody aircraft.”

The target was revealed as AirAsia became one of many airlines to return to the newly reopened Terminal 4 (T4) at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). The highly-automated T4, SIN’s newest terminal, was opened in 2017, but has been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The terminal has an annual capacity of 16 million passengers.

SIN said a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong (HKG) on Sept. 13 was the first takeoff by an airline using the reopened T4.

AirAsia said its A330 operating the key Kuala Lumpur (KUL)-SIN route has started using T4. “Pre-pandemic, AirAsia contributed to 51% of T4’s overall seat capacity,” the airline group noted. “The return to T4 will provide opportunities for AirAsia airlines to add more services to meet strong demand and, importantly, enable them to return to a full recovery to pre-COVID-19 frequency levels in the near future.”

Four AirAsia Group airlines are currently serving Singapore: AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Indonesia, AirAsia Thailand and AirAsia Philippines. The carriers operate a total of 168 weekly flights from SIN to 12 destinations in Asia. AirAsia Malaysia, which flies the KUL-SIN route, operates 106 flights weekly from SIN on seven routes. It will grow weekly SIN flights to 120 from Sept 22.

“As our third-largest hub, Singapore is an integral market for us,” Fernandes said. “From starting out with just two daily flights in 2008, we increased services significantly to 281 weekly flights pre-pandemic to meet huge demand for affordable travel in the region.”

AirAsia Group CEO Bo Lingam added: “We foresee our aviation business performance will continue to improve across all key metrics in the near term as the world continues to reopen with fewer restrictions.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.