June 13, 2012
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes is expected to move to a newly set up regional headquarters in the Indonesian capital to oversee the airline's expansion plans in Southeast Asia.
"It would be a good assumption that I'm going there," Fernandes, one of Malaysia's most successful businessmen, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday at the company headquarters in Sepang, near Kuala Lumpur Airport.
The official announcement of his move is expected on Monday along with other key appointments to the regional office and a new CEO for the airline's Malaysia operations to replace Fernandes.
The regional office will not mean a lesser role for the airline's headquarters, which will remain in Malaysia, Fernandes said. "Nothing changes for the Malaysian operations."
His remarks end weeks of speculation that the airline's headquarters would move from Sepang in the wake of a failed share swap deal between AirAsia and national airline, Malaysia Airlines.
The deal, aimed at helping both carriers compete against rivals, fell through due to opposition from MAS's union.
Fernandes said locating the regional office away from the airline's Malaysian operations would allow senior managers to work in a neutral environment free of the day-to-day pressures in the airline's headquarters.
The Jakarta office will allow the airline to tap the large Indonesian market and raise Indonesia AirAsia's profile before its listing on the Jakarta Stock Exchange by the end of the year.
It will also help the airline lobby the secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations, also based in the city, for greater integration in the region, he said.
"I'm just trying to make more money. There is no hidden agenda," Fernandes said.
Fernandes has overseen AirAsia's spectacular growth from two planes to Asia's largest budget carrier over the past decade.
AirAsia last year placed a then record order with Airbus for advanced A320 planes worth USD$18 billion. Fernandes told reporters last month AirAsia is studying a potential USD$4 billion deal to buy another 50 Airbus A320s.