AirAsia boss works on ‘super app’ to take on Grab, Gojek

AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes says he worked on a new app during the Covid-19 slump in aviation.

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes is developing a “super app” that he hopes will rival the likes of Grab and Gojek, as his budget airline struggles with the impact of Covid-19 on aviation and travel.

In an interview with the BBC, he said the “all-in-one” app would be used for food delivery, shopping, payments, entertainment and travel.

Fernandes, who is chief executive of AirAsia Group, said he was looking for new ways to generate income after the Covid-19 lockdown left planes grounded.

AirAsia recently reported a net loss of RM992.9 million in the three months that ended on June 30. Sales plunged 96% to just RM119 million.

Fernandes said he spent his time during the slump improving the company’s app and payments platform, BigPay.

“The downturn was a blessing in disguise in some ways as it allowed us to focus more on it. Running an airline takes up a lot of our time but we have been given the opportunity and time to focus on our digital business,” he said, the BBC reported.

Fernandes hopes the AirAsia app, which also offers a messaging service, can compete against super apps like Singapore-based Grab, Indonesia’s Gojek and China’s Meituan.

AirAsia, he said, had always been a digital company, adding it was among the first airlines to sell online.

“I know a super app sounds like a lofty target but Grab and Gojek also started out small as food or mobility apps. Plus, people also questioned me the same way when I said I wanted to start AirAsia,” he told the BBC.