AirAsia Group reshuffles leadership to drive tech transformation

FILE PHOTO: AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes speaks during a news conference at AirAsia headquarters in Sepang, Malaysia December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

In a bid to drive its technology transformation agenda, Malaysia-headquartered AirAsia Group Bhd has announced a series of leadership reorganisation moves that will see its chief executive officer Tony Fernandes doubling up as CEO of airasia.com.

Fernandes will lead the travel and lifestyle e-commerce platform of the budget carrier until a new CEO is hired.

“We are taking travel to another level by giving our guests a truly integrated and end-to-end experience. Not just flights but hotels, activities, lifestyle, e-commerce and more. Right at the heart of this is airasia.com, which will be a lifestyle brand that offers a frictionless travel experience  of discovery, booking, pricing, branding, deals for all our products and partnerships.

“To make this work, we have to have the right structure in place and with today’s changes, I believe we have put in place the right foundations that will allow us to really drive our digital and ancillary business, which I see eventually contributing up to 70 per cent to earnings,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Joining Fernandes are AirAsia Bhd chief commercial officer Karen Chan, who will drive all commercial functions on airasia.com, as well as Spencer Lee, who will take up the role of COO of the platform and managing the online business portfolio including OURSHOP, AirAsia WiFi (ROKKI), hotel partnerships and others.

While a chief product officer will be appointed in due course to head the product teams, AirAsia software engineering and technology head Elias Vafiadis will continue to lead software engineering.

Bo Lingam, AirAsia Group’s deputy CEO (airlines), has been appointed as the budget carrier’s president (airlines) and will also head up AirAsia SEA (formerly known as AirAsia Global Shared Services) – a shared services centre that provides corporate and support services to the airline.

Lingam will continue to run the core airline business and drive customer service improvements and cost efficiencies through digitalisation and the One AirAsia initiative.

AirAsia Group deputy CEO Aireen Omar has been appointed as the airline’s president for the corporate venture arm RedBeat Ventures. She will focus on seeking out new companies and technologies to power AirAsia’s core business while still overseeing the company’s digital businesses such as BigPay, Teleport and AirAsia BIG Loyalty.

RedBeat Ventures launched its venture capital fund – RedBeat Capital – this March in partnership with Silicon Valley-based VC firm 500 Startups to invest in post-seed stage startups with a particular focus on travel and lifestyle, logistics as well as fintech.

Last month, Teleport, the cargo and logistics arm of the budget carrier, and Gobi Partners jointly invested $10.6 million in a Series B round for Malaysia-based e-commerce and parcel delivery startup EasyParcel.