AirAsia is never out of the news for long, nor is Tony Fernandes, the ebullient founder and CEO of the airline’s parent company, Capital A. The CEO is so confident that COVID is but a memory that he told Reuters that AirAsia is planning to lease 15 additional aircraft to meet demand from China.
The march to China continues
In the same week, AirAsia Philippines announced it is returning services to the key economic hubs in China, being to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and the special administrative region of Macau. The airline said it aims to revitalize business and other essential travel between the Philippines and China while “waiting for the full reopening of the country to leisure travelers.”
Photo: Sudpoth Sirirattanasakul/Shuttershock
According to the Reuters report, Fernandes said Capital A now has three tailwinds: strengthening Asian currencies, prices of oil falling from their peaks, and China’s reopening. He added:
“The uncertainty of routes [has] now gone with China opening…And there’s a clear path to normalcy, to 2019 pre-COVID.
“We are so bullish on growth that we’re in negotiations now to sign 15 new aircraft from lessors, the fact that we are talking about new planes means things are coming back.”
The proposed 15 new leased aircraft are in addition to the 326 AirAsia already has on order through 2030. The report says the airline currently operates 150 aircraft and expects to have all 204 in its fleet back in service by August.
Data from ch-aviation.com indicates that current AirAsia orders are almost exclusively for Airbus A321neos. The data also shows that AirAsia Philippines (Z2) has a fleet of 26 Airbus A320-200s, with ten listed as inactive.
AirAsia Philippines plans to launch three times-a-week flights from Manila to Guangzhou beginning February 15th, with flights operating on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. The Shenzhen services will start on March 2nd and operate four times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. The service from Manila to Macau will also resume on March 2nd, with services running every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
CEO Ricky Isla said that pre-pandemic, the low-cost carrier flew more than 750,000 guests to and from China. He added, “the final piece of the puzzle that will complete the recovery process of the aviation industry is here.”
“Now that China is opening its borders to the world, a new era of tourism, trade and commerce is set to emerge. And, as always, AirAsia will be there to ensure our guests the best value deals as we safely take them to the skies of renewed opportunities.”
More maneuvers at Capital A
Apart from talking about new aircraft, Fernandes also told Reuters that the company was on track to complete restructuring efforts and resolve its Practice Note 17 (PN17) status by August. The Malaysian stock exchange classified Capital A as a PN17 company in January 2022, meaning it could be de-listed if its finances were not brought into line within a specific timeframe.
The CEO said the restructuring would combine the AirAsia budget airline business with AirAsia X and take the aviation business out of Capital A. He added that this process could see Capital A splitting the other businesses, including logistics, aviation services, and digital arms, into separate listings. He said,
“The plan is there [and] I’m not sure Capital A exists in the future in its present form.”
His bullishness is perhaps buoyed by the news that Capital A shares have risen 17% since the start of the year, outperforming rivals Singapore Airlines (+7%) and Cathay Pacific (-9%) in the same period.
Do you think the aviation puzzle is now complete? Let us know in the comments.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Low-Cost Carrier
- Year Founded:
- Riad Asmat