AirAsia Calls Final Boarding For Unvaccinated Travelers

As AirAsia Malaysia begins warming its engines anticipating the resumption of its domestic and international flights, the airline has made a snap decision to only allow fully vaccinated adult passengers to fly. There’s no grace period – the decision is effective immediately.

AirAsia Malaysia is making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for all adult passengers. Photo: Airbus

In a travel advisory published on its website on October 6, AirAsia says;

“AirAsia Malaysia (flight code AK) has made it mandatory for only completely vaccinated adult guests to be allowed to board its flights, effective immediately. If unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardian.”

Vaccination rules applies to international and domestic passengers

While AirAsia joins the growing list of airlines only prepared to fly fully vaccinated adult passengers, the swiftness of the ruling is unusual. It’s also relatively rare for passengers to have to produce proof of vaccination status to board a domestic flight.

“The decision to accept only fully vaccinated guests for boarding is made in the best safety interest of our guests and employees,” said AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat. “All our flights are operated by only fully-vaccinated pilots and cabin crew, and this applies to all our ground services as well.”

The decision comes as the low-cost carrier prepares to resume many of its services. AirAsia Malaysia flew 279,653 passengers in the April – June period. In this three-month period, 2,344 flights offered 474 million available seat kilometers.

Compare this to the same quarter in 2019 when AirAsia Malaysia carried 8,791,586 passengers on 57,085 flights, making 12,695 million seat kilometers available.

AirAsia Malaysia’s CEO Riad Asmat. Photo: AirAsia

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Flight recovery on the horizon for AirAsia Malaysia

With about 65% of Malaysia’s adult population fully vaccinated and 75% at least partially vaccinated, AirAsia expects a substantial recovery for air travel demand to domestic destinations and nearby regional ports.

“AirAsia anticipates interstate leisure air travel will gradually continue to reopen first, potentially in coming weeks, and that international travel could resume within the next few months, especially in the ASEAN region where inoculation rates are accelerating,” the airline said in a September statement.

AirAsia Malaysia is also enforcing a contactless check-in process. The airline says it is about health and safety, but there is inarguably a degree of cost savings in the equation. On Wednesday, AirAsia confirmed it had made it mandatory for all passengers to check in via the AirAsia Super App.

“This allows them to pass through the airport clearance and boarding process with an e-Boarding Pass that will significantly reduce physical interaction including via paper and is key in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses,” the airline advises.

“Subject to certain exceptions, check-in fees shall apply for check-in at the airport check-in counter.”

AirAsia is making contactless check-in compulsory for most passengers. Photo: AirAsia

Positioning to be in the box seat when flying resumes

AirAsia says staffed check-in counters will remain available for passengers with mobility issues, passengers traveling with small children, and unaccompanied minors.

“Guests can look forward to a convenient and seamless self-check-in process via the Super App that allows for easy uploading and instant verification of health and vaccination documents, and contactless boarding via FACES facial recognition system,” adds Mr Asmat. “All these will minimize queuing and possible physical contacts at the counters and crowding at the airport.” 

AirAsia Malaysia maintains the changes put the airline and its passengers in the box seat to resume travel as seamlessly as possible when flying reboots.

Do you agree with AirAsia Malaysia’s decision only to fly fully vaccinated passengers? What about the lack of notice? Got some thoughts on the push towards contactless check-in? Post a comment and let us know.