Keeping AirAsia’s “Allstars” engaged and retained

Every HR leader should have an employee engagement strategy to fend off resignation, and after the pandemic, the airline industry must ensure that it bounces back with a fully engaged workforce. 

AirAsia’s Head of People (Aviation), Intan Mohd Shahru, tells Chief of Staff Asia how the airline handles employee retention. 

AirAsia calls its staff ‘Allstars’. Shahru says: “The right work culture and investment in upskilling and reskilling are key to our talent retention strategy. We encourage Allstars to reach out to their supervisors with their concerns and doubts through informal and formal engagement channels.” 

One of the perks peculiar to the travel industry is heavily discounted flights. ID90 (standing for industry discounts of 90%) is a programme that allows airline staff to pay only a fraction of regular ticket prices on unbooked seats. 

Shahru says: “Our employees and their families can enjoy our ID90 benefit, which allows them to purchase last-minute tickets between 24 and 48 hours before the flight. Employees can fly to more than 130 destinations worldwide with this benefit, which gives a discount of up to 90% per ticket. Allstars from all over the world fly to their destinations daily using ID90.” 

In addition, each employee receives eight e-coupons at the start of the year to book free one-way flights to short-haul destinations for themselves or their listed beneficiaries. They may also fly long-haul via AirAsia’s subsidiary long-haul budget airlines AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X at discounted rates. 

Shahru says: “Our travel perks are just the tip of the iceberg. RedQ, AirAsia’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, has a state-of-the-art gym, physiotherapy centre, daycare centre, sleeping pods, and a clinic with our in-house doctor.” 

The Allstar Ambassador Programme allows employees to earn extra cash by promoting e-commerce ventures – AirAsia Ride and AirAsia Food – on their social media channels.

Currently, more than 18,000 Allstars enjoy AirAsia’s perks throughout Southeast Asia. In Malaysia alone, the airline has more than 8,300 employees. 

The airline’s parent company is Capital A, which Shahru says is growing rapidly. “As we resume normalcy, we are expanding our flight operations, digital platform, logistics wing, and more,” she says. 

Shahru says the first thing AirAsia did as normality began to return was reinstate its furloughed flight crew members and bring back retrenched Allstars. 

She admits that many ex-staff members have moved on to other ventures, but is proud to point to those who have rejoined the airline. 

“Soon, we’ll fully operate and recruit new talent in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and beyond,” says Shahru. “Recently, we resumed our Cadet Pilot Programme after two years. We look to have more pilots as we add more aircraft to our fleet.”

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Chief of Staff Asia