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AirAsia restructures leadership team to support transformation

AirAsia has reshuffled its leadership to support its transformation into a travel and financial platform company, as well as to build airasia.com, the airline’s lifestyle eCommerce platform, into a lifestyle brand. As part of the reshuffle, group CEO Tony Fernandes is doubling up as CEO of airasia.com, with plans to appoint a new CEO who will report to him in due course.

Spencer Lee, AirAsia BIG Loyalty’s CEO, will join Fernandes as airasia.com’s chief operating officer, managing the online business portfolio that includes OURSHOP, AirAsia WiFi (ROKKI) and hotel partnerships, among others. AirAsia’s chief commercial officer Karen Chan, will also join airasia.com’s chief commercial officer to drive all commercial functions.

Aireen Omar, AirAsia Group deputy CEO (technology and digital), is now AirAsia Group president (RedBeat Ventures) and will head up the corporate venture capital arm. In her new role, she will focus on seeking out new companies and technologies to power the airline’s core business while still overseeing its digital businesses such as BigPay, Teleport and AirAsia BIG Loyalty.

Meanwhile, Bo Lingam, the airline’s deputy CEO will helm the new role of AirAsia Group president (airlines) and will also head up AirAsia SEA, formerly known as AirAsia Global Shared Services. AirAsia SEA is a shared services centre that offers corporate and support services to the airline. He will also continue to run the core airline business and drive customer service improvements and cost efficiencies through digitalisation and the One AirAsia initiative.

AirAsia’s software engineering and technology head, Elias Vafiadis, will continue to lead software engineering. The airline also plans to hire a chief product officer for airasia.com to lead the product teams. Both individuals will report to Fernandes in the interim.

Fernandes said to make this work, the airline has to have the right structure in place. “With today’s changes, I believe we have put in place the right foundations that will allow us to really drive our digital and ancillary business, which I see eventually contributing up to 70% to earnings,” he added.

The airline recently presented the future of air travel to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in conjunction with his recent official visit to AirAsia’s headquarters RedQ. The tour covered airasia.com; the demonstration of a seamless, fully digital airport experience powered by AirAsia’s Fast Airport Clearance Experience System; as well as a demonstration of how digital engineering solutions such as blockchain technology and Skywise are able to provide more efficient, more reliable and greener end-to-end operations.

It also showcased other key components of its future travel blueprint, including e-marketplace OURSHOP, cargo and logistics platform Teleport, fintech venture BigPay, and lifestyle and entertainment affiliates such as Santan and AirAsia Foundation.

Separately, AirAsia BIG also launched its annual BIG Day campaign “816 BIG World” to reward its 22 million BIG Members with bonus BIG Points and a chance to win free flights for a year! Users can get 50% more BIG points from any earn activity with AirAsia BIG’s 200 partners worldwide until 16 August.

Consumers will also stand a chance to get one year free AirAsia flights by sharing their Live BIG moments on Instagram with the hashtag #EarnBIGLiveBIG. The campaign was conceptualised and developed in-house by AirAsia BIG’s marketing team. It will be promoted via social media, OOH, radio and its network of over 200 partners in the region.

Meanwhile, it is also removing processing fee for Malaysia for bookings made from 1 October to keep air travel affordable for all consumers. Separately, it also announced earlier this month that it is collecting the increased klia2 Passenger Service Charge levied by Malaysia Airports Holdings for flight bookings under protest, following a recent court ruling.

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