[JAKARTA] Budget airline AirAsia Bhd resumed online promotions and advertising this week, a month after a plane operated by its Indonesia affiliate crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes had imposed a moratorium on advertising after the Dec 28 crash of the Indonesia AirAsia plane, which Indonesian investigators said on Thursday was being controlled by the co-pilot when it fell into the sea.
Mr Fernandes recently told Reuters Television the airline's sales in Indonesia were slowly recovering after the crash, which was the first involving an AirAsia plane and which cast a spotlight on the patchy safety record of Indonesian airlines.
"We were 50 per cent behind where we were after the incident," Mr Fernandes said from Davos. "We are now about 12 per cent behind and it's fast recovering."
Indonesia AirAsia, in which AirAsia has a 49 per cent stake, declined to give details about passenger numbers for January or December.
One of its competitors, Garuda Indonesia, said it had seen an increase in passenger load factor this month.
Garuda Chief Executive Arif Wibowo told Reuters the average passenger load factor was around 74 per cent for Garuda and 79 per cent for its budget unit Citilink. This compares with 67.6 per cent for Garuda Indonesia Group for January last year, according to the airline's website.
Several travel agents said many customers were still afraid of flying AirAsia. Some passengers, like Jakarta-based finance executive Cynthia Nadeak, however, said they would continue to fly AirAsia.
"I'm not afraid to fly AirAsia because its reputation so far has been proven to be quite good," said Mr Nadeak, who takes at least one AirAsia flight every three months.