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Leave rescue of ailing MAS to Khazanah, says AirAsia head Fernandes

Publication Date : 12-08-2014

 

AirAsia Bhd’s head honcho Tony Fernandes has quashed rumours he is involved in talks to restructure Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and said he hopes Khazanah Nasional Bhd will be given the chance to rescue the ailing national carrier.

“It’s not for me to say (about MAS). Khazanah has a lot of smart people. They have a lot of experience. I’m sure that in due course they will announce a plan,” Fernandes told journalists after launching Premium Flex, a new service catering to business travellers.

“I’m focused on AirAsia. My future is AirAsia. I just hope people will give them (Khazanah) the chance to do it (rescue MAS), because something has to change.

“The less interference the better, and that includes from people like me.”

Asked if AirAsia would be willing to step in if the government, which owns MAS via Khazanah and the Minister of Finance Inc, made an offer, Fernandes said: “We’re Malaysians first, right? I’m always open to ideas. But I think everyone’s smart enough to do it.”

State-owned Khazanah had proposed a buyout of MAS on Friday at 27 sen a share, or 1.4 billion ringgit (US$438,400 million), to pave the way for a delisting and overhaul of the loss-making flag carrier.

AirAsia yesterday announced the launch of Premium Flex, which gives users the flexibility to change their flights up to two times at no cost, free 20kg of baggage allowance, Xpress boarding and Xpress baggage, among other perks.

Fernandes said AirAsia’s new products and services would help boost its ancillary income from around 20 per cent of group revenue currently.

Premium Flex was modelled after a similar service by Europe’s second-largest low-cost carrier easyJet, according to Fernandes.

AirAsia was targeting for Premium Flex to make up 15 per cent of its travellers within three years, he added.

Some 25 per cent of easyJet’s fare-paying passengers used its premium service from 2 per cent-3 per cent previously, Fernandes revealed.

Separately, the tycoon said that initial public offerings were “not something the group wants to pursue anymore”.

“It would be better for an investor to buy into the group rather than individual companies,” he said in reply to questions on whether the budget airline was still keen on listing its 49 per cent-owned PT Indonesia AirAsia.

He also said AirAsia Japan was on track to commence operations in the second quarter of next year, subject to approvals.

 

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