AirAsia targets launch of flying-taxi business in 2022, CEO says

Malaysian budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd. said it is seeking to launch a flying-taxi business as soon as next year.

“We are working on that right now,” Tony Fernandes, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said Saturday. “I think we are about a year and a half away from launching.”

Fernandes was speaking in an online discussion as part of the Youth Economic Forum.

With the airline business taking a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, AirAsia has been expanding in the digital space. It launched a “super app” last year that offers services from travel and shopping to logistics and financial services.

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“We took it as an opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to recast your business, re-look at things,” the CEO said.

AirAsia targets launch of flying-taxi business in 2022, CEO says

AirAsia expects to start its own e-hailing services in April, Fernandes said. The flying taxis it hopes to begin providing next year will come with as many as four seats and will be powered by a quadcopter, he added.

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Separately on Saturday, the company announced that it’s partnering with a state agency called the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre to develop an urban drone delivery service.

While AirAsia is looking for further opportunities to expand its services into new areas, Fernandes is optimistic that air travel will soon rebound with the rollout of vaccination programs. The group offers low-cost flights linking 22 countries, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region.

“I hope interstate travel will start in the next two to three weeks” within Malaysia, he said. He expects international borders to start opening in July or August.