AirAsia is drawing up plans to transport durian, the notoriously pungent fruit that’s banned from many public spaces in Asia. The airline hopes to transport this fresh fruit to a number of East Asian countries as a part of a broader push towards transporting agricultural produce. So what is the airline’s plan?
The coronavirus has forced airlines to look beyond passengers for sources of revenue. While air cargo has been popular for a long time, it has become particularly crucial to airlines this year. With demand still low, airlines are looking to cargo operations to recover at least a part of the lost revenue.
AirAsia has been hit hard by the pandemic. It grounded a large part of its fleet, 96% to be precise, earlier this year due to the lack of demand. The airline also won’t take delivery of any new planes this year, as it plans to cut costs by 30%. As flights slowly begin resuming in Asia, the airline is looking for new ways to fill its planes.
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Transporting fresh produce
Yesterday, the AirAsia Group rolled out its new e-commerce platform known as Ourfarm. The platform directly connects farmers with businesses, allowing for higher profits and lower costs. The group has also acquired a network of 7,000 vehicles for fast transport of fresh produce within the Kuala Lumpur area, including to the airport.
AirAsia will use the Ourfarm platform to source shipments of fresh produce for its outbound flights. Since it is currently durian season in Southeast Asia, the airline is preparing to transport this pungent fruit first. The airline plans to add more produce items and expand the platform to the ASEAN region in the coming months.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Ourfarm CEO Lalitha Sivanaser said that durian exporters from Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia have all reached out to the company. She also says the airline is working hard to get the fruit on the plane as soon as possible.
Connecting supply chains
The coronavirus has exposed the gaps in global supply chains. The cancellation of thousands of daily passenger flights led to a massive decrease is air cargo shipments, a large part of which is carried in the belly of passenger aircraft. This disruption in supply chains has hit fresh produce particularly hard, which needs speedy transport to prevent rotting.
AirAsia’s new plan to transport fresh produce is one that could see great success for the airline. By controlling the supply through its Ourfarm platform, the airline can reduce transportation costs and increase its profit margins. Demand for fresh produce remains high around the world, and AirAsia is making the push to capitalize on this market.
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