On Thursday, AirAsia announced that it will be temporarily hibernating most of its 97 all-Airbus aircraft until the end of April. The statement detailed flight suspensions across AirAsia’s network, with only a handful of international and domestic routes in Indonesia and Thailand remaining in operation.
Heavy reductions and pay-cuts
In the statement issued on Thursday, AirAsia said it would be temporarily parking most of its fleet as a consequence of the staggering drop in demand and austere governmental travel restrictions. As governments across the Asian continent scramble to keep the spread of COVID-19 at bay, the airline group is canceling all but a few international and domestic flights in Malaysia and will operate a heavily reduced domestic route schedule in Thailand.
AirAsia said that all passengers scheduled to fly during this period would be given the option to convert their booking into a credit account valid for one year or to change their tickets an unlimited number of times without fee. It also said that the company’s management had offered to take a pay-cut to help keep the airline afloat and support its staff.
“In our effort to further manage and contain costs, both the management and senior employees of AirAsia Group have volunteered a salary sacrifice, ranging from 100% at the very top to 15%. This will help ensure that we can ride out this prolonged period of extremely low travel demand and at the same time minimise the impact on our employees, especially those in junior positions,” the statement read.
Supporting repatriation efforts
The group also said that it will remain committed to assisting the relevant government authorities in supporting the repatriation efforts of travelers, as well as the shipment of goods. Thai AirAsia has already participated in a repatriation effort of Thai nationals out of Wuhan, China when the spread of the virus first became known.
Nearly full suspension of service
The dates for the flight suspensions look slightly different across the AirAsia subsidiaries:
- Malaysia AirAsia: Temporary suspension of all international and domestic flights from the 28th of March to the 21st of April.
- Philippines AirAsia: Temporary suspension of all international and domestic flights from the 20th of March to the 14th of April.
- Thai AirAsia: Temporary suspension of all international flights from the 22nd of March to the 25th of April. Domestic operations continue at a reduced frequency.
- Indonesia AirAsia: Significantly reduced international flight frequency. Domestic flights will also continue to operate with a reduced schedule.
- India AirAsia: Temporary suspension of all flights from the 25th of March for 21 days, according to the government suspension of all domestic flights. (India AirAsia only flies domestic routes)
- AirAsia X: Temporary suspension of most flights from the 28th of March to the 31st of May for AirAsia X Malaysia, and all flights from the 16th of March for a period of 3 months for AirAsia X Thailand.
AirAsia operates an all-Airbus fleet of 97 aircraft. 66 A320-200s, 29 A320neos, and two A321neos. It has orders for another 11 of the A320neo, and a whole 351 of the A321neo. Thankfully, they have not yet taken delivery of that many, as the question now arises where to find any available parking space.