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AirAsia Group’s founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his top priority for next year is to rehire all former AirAsia staff who were let go during the Movement Control Order (MCO)

The low-cost airline company retrenched 2,400 employees from its 24,000-strong workforce since Malaysia’s international borders closed in March 2020.

Speaking to New Straits Times, he said his goal as the world enters 2021 and the post-pandemic recovery period is to stop retrenching his employees and rehire those who were let go during MCO.

“They did nothing wrong. They’re great staff and they’ve been very good people to AirAsia. It’s just a crazy time. But that is my number one and two principles,” he told the daily yesterday, 22 December.

Tony also shared AirAsia’s efforts to retrain and reskill 500 of its staff that enabled them to take up new posts within the groupADVERTISING

“About 500 of our staff have been re-allocated to other jobs, and many of them are undergoing retraining,” he said.

“We opened the RedBeat academy. (AirAsia Digital president) Aireen Omar built that, and that’s an effort with Google.”

“Many of our staff members are retraining to be data scientists, data engineers, and other things.”

Other than operating as an airline business, AirAsia Group also runs e-commerce, logistics, food and beverage (F&B), food delivery, and fintech businesses, among others

AirAsia’s mobile app and website boasts 17 million active users monthly.

It is the group’s aspiration to turn the platform into a super app, giving customers the convenience of finding anything related to travel and everyday life, such as food and fresh produce, all on one platform.

Tony said the COVID-19 pandemic had allowed the company to fast-track its digital transformation by growing its non-airline businesses.

Currently, the group has airasia shop, airasia food, and airasia fresh under its e-commerce venture, Teleport for its logistic venture, Santan as its F&B business, and BigPay as its e-wallet product.

According to The Edge Markets, the group is looking to clinch the final approval for its lending business BigPay by the first quarter of next year.

Within the next three to five years, AirAsia Group also expects its non-airline revenues to contribute up to 50% of the group’s total earnings and gradually overtake the airline revenue in the longer term.

According to 2020 third quarter results, the group’s non-airline subsidiaries grew by 182% and almost all non-airline business divisions are now profitable.