Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AirAsia has no plans to go Private

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd has no plans to be privatised, according to group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.

“We have no plans to privatise. It’s not something that I am aware of,” Fernandes said yesterday.

He said this after a launch event which AirAsia co-hosted with CAE, a global provider of simulation and modelling technologies and integrated training solutions for the civil aviation industry and defence forces.

Asked on the firm’s share price, which has plunged more than 20% since October, he said: “I do think the market needs to understand AirAsia better.”

The airline has seen strong selling of its shares by foreign shareholders of late. The drop was “related to AirAsia’s fuel-hedging policy, which some parties considered excessively speculative,” OSK Research said last week. AirAsia shares closed 6 sen lower at RM1.52 yesterday in a generally weak market.

Datuk Tony Fernandes (left) exchanging documents with Jeff Roberts. Looking on is Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy

Separately, Fernandes said he was “happy” with the response for AirAsia’s Singapore-Kuala Lumpur services, which will start Feb 1.

“We are very happy with the response, business is very strong,” he said, adding that to-date, about 10,000 seats worth some RM1mil had been sold.

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s event, which was witnessed by Transport Minister Datuk Sri Chan Kong Choy, CAE announced that it had selected Kuala Lumpur as the location for its South-East Asian training hub.

The announcement follows CAE contract sealed in November to manage AirAsia’s Type Rating Training Organisation at the AirAsia Academy to provide training for AirAsia pilots.

The academy, which had so far seen an investment of RM200mil, was set to undergo further expansion, Fernandes said. “The second phase of the academy will be operational by June,” he said, adding that this would cost about RM40mil.

The academy now has three simulators – two CAE-built Airbus A320s belonging to AirAsia, and a Boeing 737-300 owned by CAE – and can train about 400 pilots a year.

CAE group president, innovation and civil training and services, Jeff Roberts said CAE would add an Airbus A320 simulator and an Airbus A330 simulator over the next one year.

Source : STAR
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