Tony Fernandes laments governments’ COVID-19 response as most poorly coordinated in aviation history

Chief Executive of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes has commented that governments’ coordination of the COVID-19 pandemic has been ‘horrific ‘and that it is like nothing he’s ever ‘heard of’. 

Tony made these comments when speaking to BBC yesterday regarding a statement from the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which states that the world airline industry requires up to USD 80 bn more in government support to get through the crisis caused by the pandemic.

According to Tony, while different governments currently have different requirements for travellers to enter their countries, he thinks moving forward, countries are going to impose a rule that only vaccinated visitors will be allowed in without having to quarantine. He’s view is that the United Nations along with the travel industry should have established certain protocols earlier in the pandemic but instead, politics have gotten in the way. 

 “Governments are petrified of their people, and they’re taking a very, very, very conservative view,” he told BBC. “They all want to be in control.”

Tony also added that in his history with the aviation business, he has never seen a situation more poorly coordinated. “I just think that everyone’s…scared and just reacting in a very jingoistic and nationalistic way,” he said.

In October last year, Nikkea Asia reported that AirAsia had secured a RM 1 billion loan via the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and that the loan would be 80 per cent-guaranteed by the MoF and disbursed by a group of local banks under the government’s RM50 billion Danajamin Prihatin Guarantee Scheme (DPGS). 

However, MoF dismissed the report the very next day and issued a brief statement denying approving such loan.  

Speaking to Financial Times (FT) later that month, Tony said that he hopes AirAsia’s superapp, which was launched recently, will be a route to better insulating the company from the blows typically suffered by airlines.

According to The Edge, as of August last year, after a quarterly net loss of RM803.55 million in the first quarter which ended on 31 March, 2020, AirAsia Group Bhd sank further into the red with a net loss of RM992.89 million in its second quarter which ended on 30 June 2020.

For Malaysian Airlines on the other hand, it was reported in November last year that a total of RM 28 billion has been given to nation’s flag carrier airline by Khazah Nasional. 

Main photo source: AirAsia Newsroom

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