AirAsia Group retains workforce despite low travel demand

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.

Malaysian carrier AirAsia Group Bhd was poised to retain all its employees in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak that has severely damaged the tourism and travel industry.

AirAsia Group’s chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, in an open letter to its customers late Saturday, said that all staff will be kept albeit the entire workforce will get a salary cut ranging between 15 to 75 percent.

AirAsia was one of the few airlines globally to have to shun a lay-off of workers.

“We have no revenue coming in (and) 96 percent of our fleet is grounded and we still have significant ongoing financial commitments such as fuel suppliers and leasing agents,” he said.

He added that AirAsia was “doing everything possible to reduce costs” to enable itself to resume operations as soon as possible.

“AirAsia is a family and there are tens of thousands of Allstars who depend on the business for their livelihoods and the wellbeing of their own families,” Fernandes said, referring to its workforce.

“I thank them for their sacrifice and in keeping the big picture in mind as we navigate this together,” he added.

Fernandes noted that he, and AirAsia Chairman Kamarudin Meranun, will not take their salary during the global pandemic.

Addressing customer complaints, Fernandes said the group will offer credits to its flyers whose flights were affected by the government’s travel ban. About 80 percent of the affected customers had accepted the credit offer.

Late in March, the AirAsia Group announced that it was temporarily hibernating most of its fleet in light of the temporary suspension of flights and that the management and its senior employees had volunteered to take a pay cut ranging from 15 percent to 100 percent.

Fernandes said the move would enable the group to ride out the prolonged period of severely low travel demand.

Meanwhile, Malindo Air was last month reported having asked its workers to take a pay cut and go on temporary unpaid leave, while the embattled Malaysia Airlines had also reportedly imposed a 10-percent cut on its senior management and asked staff to take unpaid leaves.