DAVAO, Philippines -- AirAsia said Friday it plans to launch mobile payment services and other businesses, taking advantage of its growing brand recognition as it expands its footprint in the region.
The Malaysian budget carrier said the plans are part of "vertical integration" moves now that it has established a firm footing in Southeast Asia. The group is the largest discount player in the region by fleet size.
"My goal is to take what we have succeeded with in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and extend our products," AirAsia's group chief executive Tony Fernandes told the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview here.
The company is waiting for Malaysia's central bank to approve a financial technology platform enabling in-flight purchases for the nearly 60 million passengers it carries annually.
"I would like to use our data to create some fintech services, such as a payment system like (Chinese online payment platform) Alipay and by creating an online service for travelers, like our version of (U.S. travel website company) TripAdvisor," said Fernandes, adding that the company could also offer cargo-delivery services using its passenger flights.
The remarks came after a launch event for the group's latest route, linking Kuala Lumpur and the southern Philippine city of Davao. It will be the carrier's fourth direct connection to the country after Manila, Cebu and Kalibo. The new service, which offers four flights a week, will commence on Dec. 21. It comes as the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte is trying to boost investment in the southern part of the country.
Duterte was born in Davao, and his daughter Sara is the mayor. The president sees economic development as a key to rooting out Islamic extremists in the region.