Malaysia budget airline AirAsia Group aims to become the largest food delivery and ride-hailing company in Asia, its chief executive said.

AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said he is confident that the airasia food and Super App can become one of the biggest food delivery, ride-hailing companies and online travel agencies in Asia, national news agency Bernama reported on Sunday.

“When (I started) AirAsia, I always wondered if we can become the biggest airline, and we did. We are the fourth biggest airline in Asia… We started with only two planes, 200,000 passengers, and now we have grown to 90 million passengers.

“So I sit back and think can we become the biggest food delivery company and ride-hailing company? Today, I officially say, I think we can. I think we’d go out there and (outgrow) existing competitors the same way we outgrew other airlines,” he was quoted as saying at a press conference in Penang.

Fernandes said he is looking forward to expanding the app’s full services to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines in the near future.

Earlier at the event, Fernandes announced the appointment of Delivereat founder Tan Suan Sear as Group Head of airasia food and Leong Shir Mein as Head of On-Demand for AirAsia’s delivery arm Teleport.

He added the group is truly excited about the partnership as it supports the company’s strategy to continue serving the underserved and become the best value delivery company in Asean.

AirAsia’s digital logistics unit Teleport had signed an agreement in August last year to acquire Delivereat for $9.8 million to strengthen its delivery service in the country.

Last Thursday, AirAsia Group has been classified as a financially distressed company after its request to extend its relief period was denied by the Malaysian stock exchange. The company later said on Friday it is taking all necessary steps to address its PN17 status and it is in the midst of formulating a plan to regularize the group’s financial condition.

AirAsia has been aggressively building its digital businesses and its Asean Super App over the last two years as most of its planes were grounded due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It has introduced ride-hailing services, food delivery, beauty e-commerce, among others. Its FinTech unit, BigPay, has also submitted its application to secure a digital banking license in Malaysia last year.

The group has hoped to build its super app, modeling regional tech giants such as Grab’s and Gojek’s super apps which offer a variety of services including ride-hailing, food delivery, and payment services.

AirAsia’s digital arm, AirAsia Digital announced in July last year it will acquire Gojek‘s operations in Thailand for $50 million. Gojek will receive shareholding in the AirAsia Super App which was valued around $1 billion then.

In its home market Malaysia alone, airasia food will be competing with GrabFood and Delivery Hero’s Foodpanda. Singapore-headquartered tech giant Sea Ltd’s Shopee has also launched food delivery services in selected areas in September last year.

[Updated] Malaysia’s AirAsia classified as financially distressed company