AirAsia Berhad


Industry Chmpions of The Year

AirAsia Berhad

Industry Chmpions of The Year


AirAsia Berhad

“Despite the fierce competition in the aviation industry, the group’s management believes competition is important for motivating them to give their best. This has paid off with the organisation winning the Skytrax World Airlines Award for the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for eight consecutive years.”

One of the most prominent and well-known brands in the ASEAN marketplace, AirAsia Berhad, or AirAsia as it is simply known to its millions of customers, had achieved much since its inception in 2001. The name has become synonymous with bringing affordable commercial flights to many who previously had few choices with competitive air fares.

Known to industry analysts and the public as the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia, AirAsia is a Malaysian home-grown brand. The company achieved public listing on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia in 2004, just three years from the time of its inception.
To add to this first of many milestones, the group now offers travellers the widest network of services with over 120 destinations in 27 countries. In the 15 years of its operations, AirAsia has carried over 330 million flyers and guests. Its fleet of aircraft has grown from just two to an impressive 70 in the same time period. In addition to its expanding network of destinations, the group has also established its presence in the ASEAN region with offices in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and also in India, in addition to its home base of Malaysia.

With its position as the pioneering low-cost carrier in Asia, the group distinguishes itself as an industry champion as it continues to provide innovative products and services in a consistent effort to provide only the best to their guests. Innovation is the key to adaptation in a volatile and competitive environment, and is the best way to meet the ever-changing needs of guests.

The company attributes its success as a leader in its field to an effective business model which revolves around a low-cost philosophy. From this starting point, operations are designed to be lean, simple and efficient. This method of operations has supported the company’s tagline “Now Everyone Can Fly,” substantiated by the group’s everyday offerings of low fares. The company also distinguishes its industry leadership with its investment into opening new routes and creating new markets.
Prior to relocating to Singapore, Smith had accumulated experience in Sydney where he led one of Randstad’s specialist recruitment businesses as its General Manager for the New South Wales and Queensland territories, managing a team of more than 60 professional consultants. He had joined Randstad in 2005 and his career trajectory saw him progress from graduate consultant through to manager and General Manager in the space of a decade.

Working with high-calibre clients as well as managing multiple teams in three markets is surely a tough job for a leader, but throwing work-life balance into the mix adds yet another juggling act that leaders must face. For Smith, the challenge he grapples with is keeping the balance between the time spent with his family and the time spent on work. The recruitment business being what it is, he says, your to-do list is never quite finished.
Innovation runs through the veins of this organisation, which has teams that are constantly on the lookout for technological advancements that help enrich the guest experience or support operations. There are also teams that keep a keen eye out for travel trends that will keep AirAsia relevant to their guests. Some of the group’s innovative products include Premium Flex, Premium Flatbed, Premium Red Lounge, roKKi WiFi, Barista-in-the-skies, Santan In-Flight Gourmet Dining Experience, premium coffees and their award-winning app.

Despite the fierce competition in the aviation industry, the group’s management believes competition is important for motivating them to give their best in retaining their hard-earned leadership position. This leadership position has garnered the group due recognition, such as winning the Skytrax World Airlines Award for the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for eight consecutive years, in addition to other accolades. These awards and accolades are the rewards for the AirAsia journey that began with a Mission Statement. The group’s mission statement encapsulates the group’s desire to be the best company to work for, where employees are treated as part of a big family, and work together to create a globally-recognised ASEAN brand. Also part of their mission statement is the promise to attain the lowest cost so that everyone can fly, while maintaining the highest quality products. AirAsia also seeks to embrace technology in a bid to reduce cost and enhance service levels.
One of the organisation’s many strengths is its flight network, one of the widest in the region, covering the whole of the ASEAN territory, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. Thanks to AirAsia’s effective low-cost business model, guests have access to some of the lowest fares in the region; air travel is democratised across all sectors of the consumer market, which means more travellers. This ultimately benefits tourism and the economic ecosystem for many countries.

Their internal ecosystem at AirAsia has clearly developed the way the management envisioned, for the corporate culture has produced certain best practices. AirAsia has been included in the HR Asia Best Companies To Work For award in 2013, while for six consecutive years between 2010 and 2015 the group was the recipient of the M100 Most Popular Graduate Employer in Leisure, Travel and Hospitality. It also received the Best Employer Brand award in 2011.

As an industry champion, AirAsia understands the importance of employee recognition and reward. There are numerous perks and benefits for employees in the group, such as Free Munch, eCoupon, ID90 and Annual Performance Bonuses. The staff retention rate at AirAsia has been credited to the good office culture, where it is said people have a great affection for the brand. Being a lean organisation means employees have constant and easy access to one another without the hierarchical obstacles. The staff turnover rate at AirAsia, according to its management, is low, rendering retention a non-issue.
Taking care of its employees is one aspect of AirAsia’s distinction as an industry champion, but it also stands out for serving guests from all walks of life, guests who value excellent flight experiences that cater to their discerning needs.

In the 15 years the airline has been making guests happy, the journey to greatness has not been without its challenges. The management believes that in the foreseeable future, competition will remain one of the biggest challenges in the aviation industry. The management strives to stay relevant to market needs with continuous innovation in products and services. It also understands that it needs to consistently adopt the practice of swiftly responding to changes, while always keeping guests’ needs at the very core of their operations, in order to remain focused in retaining their industry leadership position.

AirAsia is an example of how a business and an organisation can enter an industry that is seemingly monopolistic and grow from being a newbie to an industry leader. All companies should put in place a set of guiding principles for good corporate governance, AirAsia’s management believes, so as to sustain the business. AirAsia has in place a robust structure that ensures excellent governance and consistent compliance and conformance.

The management is not one to rest on its laurels or allow complacency to take root. AirAsia is revving its engines to remain ever vigilant to market movements and trends, while staying lean so as to be flexible and adaptable to changes. In its remarkable ascent of the last 15 years, this Malaysian powerhouse has demonstrated that it is possible to start from very little and overtake your competitors if you have a strong team, a clear vision and provide products and services to an untapped market with strong business fundamentals in place.

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