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AirAsia eyes set-up of Asean holding firm in 5-6 months

The Star Online logo The Star Online 5 days ago

MANILA: AirAsia Group expects its Association of South-East Asian Nations’ (Asean) holding company to be set up in the next five to six months, said its chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

He said the company was now working towards meeting all the legal aspects required to create a single Asean airline and improve business efficiency.      

“As soon as it is approved, the Asean holding company will be there. We want to create an Asean holding company that owns the airline 100%. This is my ultimate dream,” he told reporters at the unveiling of the “I Love Asean” aircraft livery, held at the Philippine Air Force Headquarters in Metro Manila on Tuesday.

The group currently owns a 49% stake each in AirAsia Indonesia, AirAsia Philippines and AirAsia Thailand.

Meanwhile, Fernandes said, the group was working on the listing of AirAsia Indonesia and AirAsia Philippines.

Fernandes declined to comment on news that AirAsia was venturing into Sri Lanka.

“I don’t want to comment. I think it is just speculation,” he said.

It was reported that the low-cost carrier was pitching for government approval to set up operation in the country, with a 51% stake to be own by the Sri Lanka government.

In another development, he said, the group would take delivery of 28 new aircraft in stages next year in order to connect more routes to secondary and tertiary cities in the region.

He said the group planned to launch its Kuala Lumpur-Davao (Philippines) route on Dec 21, 2017, followed by the Phuket (Thailand) - Boracay (Phillippines) flights soon.

“We owe our success to Asean and as a truly Asean airline, we want to bring people across the region closer,” he said.

Touching on Asean aviation, Fernandes expressed hope that the region would eventually have an Asean visa and single aviation authority to oversee the growing industry. 

“I have been campaigning for an Asean visa for a long time. The Chinese passenger does not need 10 different visas to visit Asean member-countries. I believe there is a growing awareness of this.

“With the data centre that we have, I believe travelling within Asean should be much easier,” he said.

Earlier, Asean Deputy Secretary-General, Dr AKT Mochtan, said that of the 116 million international tourists who had visited Asean to-date, 43% were intra-Asean visitors.

In light of this development, Mochtan has asked Ferdandes to come out with an Asean experience programme to boost the intra-Asean tourism industry.    

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“We wish to see AirAsia be the key option for the people to travel. We also want to encourage AirAsia to lead the innovation in the aviation industry and make travelling cheaper and hassle-free.

“Let us built synergy through AirAsia,” he said.

Mochtan said he was confident the 121 million Asean-tourist target set by the year-end, was achievable.

Earlier, Mochtan and Fernandes launched the ‘I Love Asean’ aircraft livery showcasing the uniqueness of the 10-member nations.

All AirAsia aircraft in the region would feature the Asean flag in addition to that of the respective country.

The group also launched the ‘AirAsia Loves Asean’ series of initiatives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Asean. These initiatives comprises the AirAsia-Asean University Partnership, Asean Entrepreneurs Day and the Asean Journalists Camp and All-Stars Exchange Programme. - Reuters

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