SEPANG: AirAsia Bhd is prepared to acquire some of Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) aircraft and staff, in its proposed rationalisation plan to take over the ailing national carrier’s loss-incurring domestic routes.
However, the specific numbers of what it will acquire will depend on what routes to be handed to the low-cost airline.
“It will likely range from four to nine aircraft, like its 737-300s and 737-400s, and from 200 to 1,600 staff. We can take those, but that is MAS choice,” AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes told reporters at a press conference yesterday.
Depending on what price it is offering, AirAsia has the choice to either lease or purchase the aircraft.
Fernandes also stressed that AirAsia could take over domestic routes without any subsidy from the Government. “We can actually start doing this in 24 hours,” he said, adding that the one-year period proposed by MAS was too long.
Under the proposed plan, AirAsia would take over any of MAS domestic operations that the latter intended to exit, including the Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan routes. It would not operate Lahad Datu, Limbang and Mulu routes as the present runways there were unable to accommodate AirAsia’s fleet of Boeing 737-300 and Airbus A320 aircraft. It will also not take over the rural air services.
Domestic routes contribute about 65% to AirAsia's revenue.
Earlier yesterday, AirAsia and Celcom (Malaysia) Bhd introduced their first collaborative effort, a budget starter pack for mobile communications, which would be retailed to AirAsia passengers.
With that, Celcom hopes to tap a market of some 16 million customers, including budget travellers and tourists who may benefit from their prepaid mobile phone plans.
Celcom chief executive officer Datuk Shazalli Ramly also said he hoped to have more tie-ups with AirAsia.
The low-cost carrier will also collaborate with Celcom’s sister companies in Thailand and Indonesia to produce similar packages for customers.