In a letter to the public, Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes talks about his journey with one of the world’s cheapest airlines and how today it has become inevitable the airline be grounded even as the top leadership of Franandes and Kamraudin bin Meranun, his partner and Co-Founder of the airline, takes a hundred percent pay-cut while instituting other measures to help tide over the crisis in the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic.
“When Kamarudin and I started AirAsia nearly 20 years ago, we had a dream of allowing everyone the opportunity to fly. Sadly, that opportunity has now been taken away from us for now.
“It’s an uncertain time. Never could I have imagined it, no one could have predicted it and yet everyone has been touched by it. So I want to be open and transparent with you in this time of uncertainty.
“There’s no denying that our industry has been hit hard, and we are no exception. This is possibly the biggest challenge we have ever had to face. We have no revenue coming in, 96% of our fleet is grounded and we still have significant ongoing financial commitments such as fuel suppliers and leasing agents.
“We are doing everything possible to reduce costs during this time so we can come back fighting as fast as possible and continue to be the world’s best low-cost carrier, enabling everyone the ability to fly with our great value and service.
“We are one of the few airlines world over who has kept all of our staff on. AirAsia is a family and there are tens of thousands of Allstars who depend on the business for their livelihoods and the wellbeing of their own families. Kamarudin and I will not be taking a salary during this period and Allstars from across the business have accepted temporary pay reductions of anywhere between 15-75%, depending on seniority, to share the impact this is having on our business. I thank them for their sacrifice and in keeping the big picture in mind as we navigate this together.
“In spite of all these challenges, I want to assure you that AirAsia is strong and remains firmly focused on the future and serving you, our guests. I also want to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of you for your loyalty to AirAsia and I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and well throughout this trying time. I’m truly sorry that many of your travel plans have been affected. Like all airlines, AirAsia had no choice but to cancel a large number of flights due to government restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“I know many of you have expressed frustration with not receiving a refund for your flights but I encourage you to accept a credit as a good alternative. More than 80 percent of you have accepted our credit offer and we truly appreciate this. Please know that our policy is in line with many operators in the travel industry and reflects our focus on coming out the other side of this difficult period and flying with you again as soon as possible. We have ensured that we adhere to all regulations and requirements of respective governments and consumer authorities and believe this is the best solution. You are among the over 600 million guests who have flown AirAsia and can’t wait to fly with you again once this is over.
“While we strongly encourage you to accept the credit which is instant and comes with a 365-day validity and allows you to change your flight date for an unlimited number of times, we do accept requests for refund on a case by case basis. However, due to the overwhelming number of requests that we have received, it may take a long process of between 12 to 16 weeks.
“I also want to acknowledge the comments I’ve seen about our virtual Allstar AVA. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and my team is making improvements to the system daily. Currently, our team and AVA are handling 10 times the normal volume of queries, which is now at about half a million guests on a daily basis.
“We are working tirelessly, around the clock, to provide assistance to each and every one of you. We’ve mobilised additional support to our customer happiness team, including 1,800 Allstars from other functions, who have rolled up their sleeves and volunteered to help, so more live agents are available to assist you via our LiveChat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter & WeChat 24/7.
“We’ve never had a time like this before and we are doing our best. We are not always perfect but we strive to do all we can for our people and our customers at all times. This is unprecedented but it is also temporary and we will be back, stronger than before, repainting the skies red and making sure everyone can fly again.
Stay home. Be safe. And look to the future.”
Lots of love,