airasia Super App, the digital travel and lifestyle platform of AirAsia Group, and Alphabet Inc’s Google Cloud announced on Friday a five-year strategic collaboration to advance the Super App’s vision of a co-innovation ecosystem.

The two organizations will nurture technology talent, co-create software tools for open innovation, deliver data-driven intelligence on behalf of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on the platform, and ensure accessibility for diverse users in cities and rural areas, the companies said in a joint statement.

“With the Super App as the center of our ecosystem of e-commerce, logistics and FinTech, we are determined to continue that legacy and give all 700 million people in Asean inclusivity, accessibility and value with an extensive range of services available at their fingertips,” Capital A Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said.

“With Google as our partner to take our digital journey to the next stage, we will expand the platform into an entire ecosystem that will not only be transactional, but be about building community, and enriching that community with market-ready technologies and resources to engage more users – not just the customers but partners like restaurants, airlines, hotels and drivers,” he added.

“With Google’s help, our ecosystem will not only be transactional, but be about building community, and enriching that community – not just the customers but partners like restaurants, airlines, hotels and drivers,” Fernandes said.

airasia Super App, which operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, is part of Capital A’s digital pillar. The platform offers a suite of on-demand services from flight and hotel bookings to food and parcel delivery, and ride-hailing services, as it aims to take on regional super app such as Grab and Gojek.

“… we look forward to exploring further co-innovation initiatives with Google, whether in digital travel planning, self-driving cars, cloud gaming, startup investment, or supporting frontline workers through Google Workspace,” airasia Super App CEO Amanda Woo said.

The strategic collaboration and ecosystem building efforts will encompass four pillars which include fostering an agile culture and co-innovation talent engine, ensuring seamless user access anytime and anywhere, on any device, unlocking data-driven insights to fuel MSME growth and empowering partners and developers to co-innovate and contribute.

One of the initiatives include establishing a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) consisting of AirAsia Allstars and Google Cloud technologists. The CCoE will leverage Google Cloud’s infrastructure, and advanced microservices, serverless and networking technologies; deploy Google Cloud’s analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies; adopt Google Cloud’s open-source principles and infrastructure, among others.

Google, on the other hand, will also tap airasia Super App’s in-region network to expand its developer community in Southeast Asia.

“Super-apps are helping small businesses thrive and stimulate economies. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that 70 percent of new economic value generated in the next decade will be driven by digital platform business models,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said.

AirAsia Group has been aggressively building its digital businesses and its ASEAN Super App over the last two years as most of AirAsia’s planes were grounded due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The group has hoped to build its super app modeling regional tech giants such as Grab’s and Gojek’s super apps which offers a variety of services including ride-hailing, food delivery, and payment services.

Capital A posted a net loss of MYR3.12 billion ($744 million) in 2021, narrowed from MYR5.11 billion ($1.22 billion) in 2020, mainly due to strict cost control measures. The revival of the airline industry, particularly ASEAN countries gradually easing travel restrictions has contributed to the group’s reported growth in passengers carried and commendable load factor at 80 percent in the last quarter of 2021. This helped improve its financial position, the group said in February.

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