AirAsia keen to work with MAS


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 20 Jun 2004

BY FLORENCE A. SAMY

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia wants to co-operate with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to help boost the local tourism and aviation industry, said its group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes. 

“If we can combine our heads and resources together, Malaysia could really become a centre for aviation excellence.  

“We’re looking at it as a win-win situation,” he said here yesterday. 

In the end, Malaysia would gain business experience by having two successful profit-making airlines, which would encourage more companies to set up business here, he said. 

Reiterating that his airline was not out to take over MAS’ domestic services, Fernandes said AirAsia had tried to co-operate with MAS but received a negative response.  

Newspapers reported last week that AirAsia might gradually take over MAS domestic services as it was making money despite charging lower fares. 

The MAS Employees Union of Peninsular Malaysia reacted to the reports by calling on the Government to reject the move as it would threaten the jobs of about 5,000 MAS employees.  

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said on Tuesday that there was no proposal to allow AirAsia to take over from MAS. 

Fernandes said AirAsia was focusing on expansion plans and was increasing its fleet size by almost fourfold due to the people's “tremendous appetite for travel.” 

He said the “domestic pie” had become bigger due to the increase in travellers. 

“We’re expecting four million passengers for the calendar year compared to two million last year,” he added.  

AirAsia has submitted a proposal to Boeing and Airbus to buy up to 80 new aircrafts and hoped to make a decision by the end of the year, he said. 

“Right now, we’re short of aircrafts. We could do so much more if we had more aircrafts, so we’re busily looking for more. 

“We have 17 planes right now and hope to have 24 by the end of October,” he said. 

“Low fares have stimulated demand that was never there before as many people who previously couldn’t fly can now afford to do so,” he added. 

Fernandes said AirAsia was running at a 90% load factor for all the flights this month and that 40% of the passenger load at the Senai Airport was made up of Singaporeans. 

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