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Capital A accelerates sustainability focus, records efficiency gains amidst aviation industry recovery

Air Asia

Capital A announced significant sustainability progress in its 2023 report, highlighting reduced carbon emissions, operational efficiencies, and a rise in gender diversity across leadership roles.

Capital A reached a new milestone in its journey towards sustainability and net zero emissions with the return of its anchor airline operations to near pre-pandemic fuel and carbon efficiency. In its first standalone sustainability report, the Group announced that in 2023, AirAsia’s carbon intensity metrics dipped below 2019 levels as its fleet strength returned to 75%. With load factors rising to 88%, AirAsia maintained an on-time-performance score of 77%, helping boost its Net Promoter Score (NPS)* to 52 from just 36 in 2022. These are among the environment, social and governance (ESG) highlights in the Group’s latest disclosures.

In its environmental highlights, the Group said its carbon emissions per available seat kilometre (gCO2/ASK) of 64.4 and carbon emissions per revenue passenger kilometre (gCO2/RPK) of 74.0 were its lowest yet. This is in large part due to the implementation of operational efficiency measures which delivered total carbon avoidance of 129,469 tonnes, equivalent to savings of 41,000 tonnes in fuel and US$40 million in fuel costs. This performance has placed AirAsia once again among top performers of regional narrow body operators, underscoring its Gold Environmental Sustainability rating from the Centre for Aviation in its 2023 CAPA-Envest Global Airline Sustainability Benchmarking Report.

In waste management, the Group handled over 1,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste of which 49% was diverted from the landfill. Inflight catering company Santan also launched its five-year packaging strategy that includes among its priorities, sourcing for affordable biodegradable inflight food packaging as well as packaging that enables products to meet shelf-life in order to lower food waste. Santan capped its food waste margins within its target of 30% of total consumption, putting it on track to lowering its 2024 target to 25%.

In economic measures, Capital A strengthened its sustainability governance with the appointment of Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Professor of Planetary Health at Sunway University, and Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, former Governor of the Bank of Thailand, as sustainability advisers to its aviation arm.

Capital A also continued its digital transformation with the rebranding of its Super App to AirAsia MOVE featuring improvements in its user interface. Complementing this was the launch of the AskBo AI chatbot to handle more complex queries swiftly. The Group also continued to make advances with automating and digitalising manual processes and paperwork. Measures taken to increase utilisation of self-check-in solutions helped eliminate 200,000 paper boarding passes while helping cut check-in counter queue times. The recovery of AirAsia’s NPS* score towards the pre-pandemic level of 60 reflects growing customer satisfaction with AirAsia services.

In social disclosures, Capital A made significant strides in increasing the representation of women in leadership and STEM roles. In 2023, the proportion of women occupying leadership positions rose to 32% from 24% the previous year. Female pilot representation also rose to 7% from 6.6% and women in tech/IT roles to 23.9% from 17.7% in 2022.

On the community investment front, AirAsia Foundation resumed full grant-making activities to support the growth of social enterprises in ASEAN while adding a new environmental dimension to its grant qualifying criteria. In 2023, the Foundation awarded three grants totalling RM244,907 to Natural Aceh, Fisherfolk and Bambuhay from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines respectively. All three organisations conduct social businesses that also aim to address UN Sustainable Development Goals on Poverty Alleviation, Gender Equality, Life on Land and Life Below Water.

Capital A’s Chief Sustainability Officer Yap Mun Ching said, “In 2023, we appointed Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood and Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob as sustainability advisors for our Aviation Business and welcome their stewardship as we accelerate our sustainability focus at Capital A and AirAsia.”

“This was the first year since 2019 that all AirAsia airlines have been able to fly uninterrupted by lockdowns. Getting aircraft that have been mothballed for two to three years back into tip-top shape remains challenging given a continued global shortage of skilled manpower, parts and maintenance slots. However, our aviation business units – AirAsia, ADE and GTR – have all put in phenomenal effort, which we can now confirm with our results. ”

“Beyond operational recovery, in 2023 Capital A prioritised diversity, equity and inclusion goals and the results are evident through the big strides we have recorded in increasing female representation across leadership and STEM roles.”

“Looking ahead, Capital A remains committed to raising the sustainability bar. Among others, we will be pursuing regulatory approvals for CORSIA offset management, regional expansion of our aviation sustainability campaign, and incorporating renewable energy at ADE’s maintenance facilities. At AirAsia Foundation, we look forward to expanding our partnerships for sustainable travel.”

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.