Image credit: AirAsia/Instagram, Reuters

Budget carrier AirAsia’s food delivery service, airasia food, is looking to spread its wings and start operations in Singapore.

Ms Amanda Woo, AirAsia’s chief commercial officer, told The Straits Times yesterday that its food delivery service will launch here next month, and that it has obtained all the necessary approvals from the Singapore authorities.

On top of food and beverage outlets, AirAsia is also calling for those in the beauty, fashion, fresh produce, and hotel industries to register their interest, as it is preparing to launch more products, said Ms. Woo.

AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday that his company’s latest venture will be coming to Singapore “with a roar”.

The food delivery service began operations in Malaysia in May last year.

According to the carrier, it served 500 restaurants and delivered close to 15,000 orders in its first three months of operation.

Coming to Singapore will be airasia food’s 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,” Mr Fernandes said.

Miss Sabrina Khaw, head of airasia food, said that AirAsia pivoted towards food delivery after realising 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.

Miss Khaw said that airasia food runs on a zero-commission model. “Merchants are able to choose from flat-rate plans powering payment and delivery”.

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 that the airline may not survive. Three months later, it was reported that the carrier’s long-haul arm was out of money and needed to raise up to RM500 million (S$164 million) to restart.

AirAsia is not the only airline forced to provide other services to survive. 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’s food delivery service now aims to cut for itself a slice of the lucrative 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 delivery bandwagon.

Mr Fernandes said that he was sure airasia food would 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.”

Text: Hariz Baharudin/The Straits Times