Sun, 01 Aug 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The founder of AirAsia Group has said the aviation industry could return to normal within two years.

AirAsia's Tony Fernandes also said improved government policies are needed to avoid future disruptions once travel resumes.

However, Fernandes noted that rising Covid infections in AirAsia's major operating countries could result in prolonged border closures and travel restrictions.

Still, AirAsia reported a revenue decline in the first quarter ending March 31 of $72 million.

AirAsia also recorded a net loss of $185 million, compared to the $194 million lost in the first quarter of 2020.

AirAsia saw its worst ever annual earnings for the full year 2020, as a result of domestic and international border closures.

"In most of our operating markets, inoculations are in progress and the majority will have had at least 50% of their population receiving at least one dose by the end of 2021," Fernandes said, adding that he recently received his first shot.

"This is expected to deliver a huge boost for air travel demand for our key ASEAN markets, on top of strong pent-up demand," he said, referring to the 10 countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"We expect domestic operations in Malaysia and [the] Philippines will be below 25% of pre-COVID levels until at least September 2021, while more of the population are receiving their vaccinations," added AirAsia Group President Bo Lingam.

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