AIRASIA Group Berhad said the outcome of its seat sale this week after weeks of travel restrictions was a sign of a “positive momentum moving into the second half of 2020.”

In a statement e-mailed to reporters on Thursday, the group said it sold a total of 41,000 seats on June 23 across its entire network, which it described as the airline’s “highest post-hibernation sale day,” signifying a “strong rebound in demand for air travel.”

AirAsia Group Berhad Chief Executive Officer Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes was quoted as saying: “We are encouraged by this positive trend and we foresee this will continue in the coming weeks.”

The group said its website experienced a traffic growth of 170%.

“Our recent innovative product in Malaysia, AirAsia Unlimited Pass, which is a product specifically designed to promote the Malaysian Government’s effort to stimulate and encourage domestic travel, sold out quickly. We will be rolling this out in other markets soon,” Mr. Fernandes.

AirAsia said among the most popular routes booked were Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia, Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Hat Yai for Thailand, Manila to Puerto Princesa and Davao for the Philippines, Delhi to Srinagar and Bengaluru to Hyderabad for India, and Jakarta to Denpasar and Medan for Indonesia.

The group also noted its load factor averaged around 50% with Malaysia hitting 70% on Tuesday.

AirAsia had gone into hibernation due to government-imposed travel restrictions in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“We are aiming to increase our flight frequencies to around 50% of our pre-COVID operations and we look forward to resuming all domestic routes in the coming weeks and months to cater to the increasing demand. Currently, we are operating 152 daily flights across the region. We look forward to the reopening of international borders in recognition of the fact that air transport provides the connectivity that is essential for the resumption of economic activities and the global recovery efforts,” Mr. Fernandes said.

The group said the traveling public should fly again as air travel remains “one of the safest modes.”

Citing the International Air Transport Association, the group said the risk of transmission on board “is extremely low.”

“Aircraft are equipped with features that will reduce the already-low risk of transmission onboard. Passengers are seated facing forward with the seatback serving as a solid barrier, while the cabin air is fully filtered and renewed every 2-3 minutes through the hospital-grade HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, ensuring clean cabin air. Coupled with a layered approach of biosafety measures covering the entire passenger journey, the risk of transmission onboard is further minimized,” it added. — Arjay L. Balinbinb