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AirAsia food to spread its wings and start deliveries in Singapore


SINGAPORE - AirAsia food, budget carrier AirAsia's delivery service, is looking to spread its wings and start operations in Singapore.

AirAsia's chief executive Tony Fernandes said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday (Feb 17) that his company's latest venture will be coming to "Singapore with a roar", although he did not specify when.

The food delivery service started almost a year ago and was reportedly gearing up for operations in major Malaysian cities. Coming to Singapore would be its first overseas foray.

"As a disruptive leader, we're ready to take on the new challenge in Singapore, providing value, simplicity and inclusivity for everyone," he said.

Mr Fernandes also mentioned that parties interested in becoming a merchant with AirAsia food could already sign up with the company via email.

AirAsia food officially began operations in May 2020. According to the carrier, it had served 500 restaurants and delivered close to 15,000 orders within three months in operation.

Miss Sabrina Khaw, head of AirAsia food, said that the company pivoted towards food delivery after considering that food delivery platforms in Malaysia were charging "exorbitant commission rates", averaging between 20 per cent and 35 per cent.

She added that there was very little control given to merchants over their own store when it came to food deliveries.

"AirAsia food runs on a zero-commission model. Merchants are able to choose from flat-rate plans powering payment and delivery," she said.

The budget carrier has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic's disruptions to air travel. Last July, its auditors filed a report with the stock exchange in Kuala Lumpur saying the airline may not survive.

Three months later, it was reported that its long-haul arm was out of money and needed to raise up to RM500 million ($164 million) to restart.

AirAsia is not the only airline forced to provide other services to survive after being battered by travel restrictions due to Covid-19.

Singapore Airlines has started restaurant services in its airplanes, and conducted behind-the-scenes tours at its training facility.

Other airlines around the world have launched sightseeing "flights to nowhere" and started selling themed merchandise.

AirAsia food now aims to cut itself a slice of the lucrative food delivery pie here. According to research firm Statista, online food delivery was a US$464 million (S$616 million) business in Singapore last year.

Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood - which entered the market in 2012, 2015 and 2018 respectively - remain the major players in food delivery here, with several new platforms such as WhyQ, Chope On and Pickupp having leapt onto the food-delivery bandwagon.

Mr Fernandes said that he was sure AirAsia food will do well in Singapore despite the crowded food delivery space.

"It took me seven years to get approval to fly to Singapore but better late than never. So I'd say, we're way ahead of schedule on food. I'm sure we (are) going to get a great welcome," he said.

"So Singapore: here we come."

Published : February 18, 2021

By : Hariz Baharudin The Straits Times/ANN