Home AirAsia Lifestyle Serving the underserved in the spirit of National Day
Home AirAsia Lifestyle Serving the underserved in the spirit of National Day

Serving the underserved in the spirit of National Day

New podcast series highlights the strength and unity of Malaysians to overcome adversity

AirAsia has always been the people’s airline. From connecting family and friends for festive seasons, bridging the gap between both geographical sides of the country, flying first-time travellers to rediscover their homeland, to providing numerous job opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry - people are the heart of everything we do.

Even when the pandemic first hit and AirAsia Group embarked on a journey to transform the business into a one stop travel and lifestyle tech company, our core proposition of always providing the best value to the people in the air and now also on the ground, remains undeterred. As a proud Malaysian brand, in the spirit of National Day and with the theme of Malaysia Prihatin, we are presenting some of the heartwarming stories of unity, humanity and determination from a number of ordinary Malaysians across different communities to highlight their struggles, support, and opportunities presented to them to overcome the challenges they have faced from the pandemic.

Their stories of bravery, survival, empathy and collaboration will be shared in a special four-part podcast series, titled Better Bersama on YouTube starting 30 August to 16 September 2021.

Revival of Tourism
Just as how we democratised air travel, we believe it is important to foster inclusivity and freedom of opportunities to help revive the local economy and tourism industry. Mohd Faizol B Ali, Resort Manager at Ombak Villa Langkawi said that their revenue has dropped as much as 75 per cent due to the pandemic on top of having to downsize 50 per cent of the staff. The challenges forced them to diversify their offerings by establishing a special food and beverage outlet offering hotel quality food for the local market, deploying their manpower to other hotels to conduct maintenance and housekeeping, and catering for long-stay guests including front liners such as doctors from the mainland to support the vaccination drive in Langkawi.

With the tourism and hospitality sectors one of the hardest hit, obviously Ombak Villa Langkawi is not alone in this struggle. Krystle Ng, Head of Brand and Marketing at Ormond Group also shared how the hospitality group has been severely impacted by Covid-19 across all of its brands: The Chow Kit Hotel, Ormond Hotel, MoMo’s, and Tune Hotel. They had to work tirelessly to come up with new promotions and programmes that would balance the ever changing needs of customers, the hotel Group as well as their food and beverage businesses. Besides introducing a new concept called “Private at the Chow Kit” - a personal dining experience where they converted guest rooms into private dining spaces, the Group also offered local staycations and provided travel quarantine for Malaysians who were returning home. Most importantly, they used the downtime to continue to invest in their people by providing training to upskill them to be able to better serve guests in the new world of travel.

The devastating impact of the pandemic has echoed throughout the tourism industry as the number of tourist arrivals into Malaysia has dramatically dropped by more than 80 per cent in 2020 alone. Nur Liyana Mahizzan, Head of Marketing at airasia, recalls that although the unprecedented health situation brought about uncertainty, it has also expanded the business outlook to evolve based on demand in new and different ways. This is where the freedom of opportunities lie for our partners such as Ombak Villa Langkawi and Ormond Group as the airasia Super App not only provides a one-stop-shop for travel and lifestyle needs as well and the endless marketing opportunities and possibilities from its Hotels, SNAP (Flight + Hotel combos) to airasia food and more services.

“Together with our partners, we continue to do our best to play our part in driving tourists back to all the different destinations within Malaysia and beyond, in the hope that we can help revive tourism and drive the economies in those destinations again, to not just benefit guests, but to also help everyone within the travel ecosystem together,” said Liyana.

Homegrown Brands
The lifestyle offerings on the airasia Super App also extend to personal care with airasia beauty, which focuses on Asian beauty and skincare brands including local favourites such as Tanamera, SO.LEK Cosmetics, Kayman Beauty and Tuty Pout. Faisal Ahmad Fadzil, co-founder of Tanamera Tropical Spa said due to the pandemic, they had to make sacrifices including salary and allowance cuts, but they strived to maintain all of their staff. At the same time, the pandemic taught them to be more flexible and to think outside of their comfort zone. As an established retailer, the brand shifted their focus online, including on airasia beauty as one of their new revenue streams.

Likewise, Dahlia Nadirah, founder of SO.LEK Cosmetics had to stay agile as she noticed a difference in consumer buying behaviour this year. She said that the past 18 months have been very tough on them and at times she worried if they could stay in business. They were supposed to market their products in 100 stores nationwide last year and had restocked ahead of time but unfortunately, the pandemic came in like a wrecking ball. Now, they are staying online to stay afloat and are thankful for airasia beauty’s support. She added: “While we could not expand in terms of having our products physically in stores with other partners, the collaboration with airasia beauty allowed us to expand the e-commerce audience for our brand.”

Nabella Anuar, who started Kayman Beauty in 2017, also faced a huge setback as they worked with international suppliers and manufacturers who were unable to deliver their shipment in time due to various travel restrictions, while Kayman Beauty itself had no inhouse resources nor expertise to formulate their products locally. So they started to work with local manufacturers to maintain the required deadlines and thus help the local economy at the same time. As a beauty brand, working with airasia beauty not only helped their products to be more accessible for everyone and support their livelihood, but also paved a way for their brands to become one of the leading skincare brands in Malaysia leveraging on millions of airasia Super App users.

Apart from established brands, we extended our support to the new kids on the block as well. Angeline Tu was an AirAsia X cabin crew turned businesswoman by establishing Tuty Pout Cosmetics, a local vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand. When Angeline was a cabin crew, she always struggled to find the right cosmetics for her lips which would often get dry and chapped when she was on duty. When the pandemic first hit and she had to wear a mask in-flight, her lipstick would often get smudged on the mask on top of getting dry. This is when she started to learn and discover more about the ingredients in cosmetics and worked hard to find a solution. When she was retrenched, she looked at it as an opportunity to pursue her business interest and while she is no longer an Allstar (airasia employee), she continues to share with her ex-colleagues updates and latest info on her line of lipsticks. Even though she only started her brand in November 2020, airasia beauty saw great potential in her products and helped her market her brand on the platform.

Strong Communities
As a brand that serves the everyday people, we are as good as the communities we serve and we work hard to ensure our support remains inclusive. Mohd Nisha and his sister Noor Asliza have been growing and selling Original Harumanis Perlis mangoes over the last 10 years. As the pandemic hit and due to the continued MCO, they were unable to market and distribute their harvests as usual as they depend on interstate travellers to purchase these fruits which are only readily available in Perlis. As full-time farmers, the challenges posed a serious threat to their livelihood.

Realising the adverse impact of Covid-19 on farmers, especially seasonal farmers, airasia farm in cooperation with the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) reached out to assist them to cope with the logistical challenges to export their produce and market their perishable crops across the country - including to Sabah for the first time. They did not think twice and were fully onboarded in no time to not only sell, but also learn more about the e-commerce marketplace and marketing system. The campaign was not only successful in selling 10 tonnes of mangoes in two months, but also helped other Harumanis farmers across Perlis to transform their businesses online.

Closer to home, AirAsia X Senior First Officer, Malcolm Brian Patrick has been actively extending his helping hands to his peers as an Allstar Peer Supporter including by conducting Peer Awareness Training for flight operations staff who are on furlough. Helping people and the community comes naturally for Malcolm as he was part of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program which dealt with a range of incidents onboard including medical situations, handling turbulence related queries and more when he first joined AirAsia around seven years ago.

While he is also currently on furlough due to the closure of international borders, along with his peers, Malcolm has helped close to 600 Allstars to get through various challenging circumstances through the support programme.

The Business of Caring
Our sense of responsibility and inclusivity also made us discover Rumah Titian Kaseh, which was established in 1998 to provide protection and temporary placement to the needy, unfortunate and marginalised communities. For self-support, they have set up Kaseh Cookies, an enterprise to sell cookies and delicacies made by its residents.

Puan Sharifah Adlan, co-founder of the organisation recalls that while the pandemic has posed various challenges for them to operate, there is also a silver lining as they get to work with IKHLAS, airasia's Muslim-friendly line of business. Understanding that Rumah Titian Kaseh relies heavily on their cottage enterprise, IKHLAS helped them to market their products online and now, Kaseh Cookies is one of the best-selling products in the Dry Food Category and Top 3 products on the Shop with IKHLAS platform.

Since its establishment during the pandemic last year, IKHLAS has continued to assist the needy across the country including in Sabah, where tourism is a key revenue generator for the state and its people. The situation worsened due to the lockdowns and restrictions on business operations to curb the spread of the virus. Effendi Yahya, Sales and Partnership Manager at IKHLAS said that while help and attention are being given to many affected areas, there are still places with smaller communities that have not received much help or in the worst case,forgotten.

Many of these families live in dire situations and require immediate aid of more than just necessities. Since establishing the ‘IKHLAS For Sabah’ campaign late last year, IKHLAS has aided over 5,200 families, supported local merchants, and made 30 aid distributions across the islands in Kudat, Semporna and Sandakan.

Serving the underserved has been the driving force for airasia since our inception and we will continue to expand our platforms to better assist the communities around us and in which we serve. After all, in the spirit of National Day, we are #BetterBersama.

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