AirAsia X eyes London, Hawaii

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X Bhd is targeting to fly to Hawaii and London within the next eight months, said AIRASIA BHD head honcho Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Fernandes revealed that the long-haul, no-frills airline had plans for a destination in Europe, but declined to elaborate further.

“It’s going to be a sexy route,” he said.

“We have to go back to Europe. By being in Europe and the United States, it would change the brand profile quite dramatically,” he told reporters after the launching of Wisma Tune.

It was reported recently that AirAsia X had applied to fly to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X group chief executive officer Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said the airline was working on streamlining its operations, managing capacity and reducing cost.

He said the airline had since February embarked on an internal restructuring exercise.

“There were operational inefficiencies and redundancies in our operations. We are going to drop some of our routes and are also looking at ‘exclusive’ routes like Hawaii,” he explained.

“I am pushing to have the Hawaii and Europe routes before December this year,” Kamarudin said.

He added that cost-saving measures between AirAsia X and AirAsia were being implemented, such as having one ground handling and renegotiating airport charges.

“I am fairly confident we can turn this around. We see bookings coming in and yields are moving up,” Kamarudin said.

He said that foreign exchange and fuel costs would continue to be the main challenges, as 70% of its cost was exposed to the US dollar.

Meanwhile, Fernandes said the Tune Group has been exploring opportunities for an initial public offering (IPO) exercise for its hospitality arm, Tune Hotels Regional Services Sdn Bhd, and mobile services provider Tune Talk Sdn Bhd.

“I think both Tune Talk and Tune Hotels are candidates for potential IPOs. Tune Talk’s profitability is growing very quickly,” he said.

However, Fernandes did not provide any timelines for the IPOs.

The privately-held group’s units include Tune Air (a substantial shareholder of low-cost carrier AirAsia), Tune Hotels, Tune Money, Tune Insurance, Tune Talk, Tune Box, Tune Studios, Queens Park Rangers Football Club and the Epsom College in Malaysia.

“We do believe in the public market. We are disappointed at the share price of AirAsia X, but at the end of the day, if we perform, it will reflect in our share prices.

“We believe we are worth more and we believe that our results would be better this year,” he said, referring to AirAsia X’s share price performance.

Yesterday, AirAsia X’s share price closed one sen lower at 45 sen, giving it a market capitalisation of RM1.07bil. Year-to-date, its share price has fallen almost 30% from 64.5 sen.

AirAsia’s share price closed one sen lower at RM2.28.


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