Budget carrier AirAsia is setting up a strategic planning centre in Indonesia, away from its Malaysian headquarters, with head Tony Fernandes expected to expand regional operations from there.
Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia and currently head of its Malaysia operations, is expected to move to the centre in Jakarta, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
“Shifting AirAsia’s emphasis to a regional strategy is, we believe, not just good business, but also a move that will keep us ahead of the inevitable competition that is heading our way,” Fernandes said in a statement.
The carrier will name Fernandes’ replacement for its Malaysia operations next Monday. The group headquarters will remain in Malaysia, officials confirmed.
Asia’s largest budget airline has boomed from a decade ago, when it only had two aircraft.
But even now it still has only 18 planes in Indonesia – which has a population of 240 million – compared to 24 in Thailand and 58 in Malaysia, the firm said in the statement.
The Jakarta base will also help it lobby the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, whose secretariat is in the Indonesian capital, it added.
AirAsia Indonesia is planning to list on the Jakarta Stock Exchange by the end of 2012, and Fernandes said the company was looking to form five more joint ventures with regional airlines over the next two years.
When he took over then ailing carrier a decade ago it had two Boeing 737s, six domestic routes and a staff of 250 Malaysian nationals.
The group now includes six airlines – AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Indonesia, Philippines’ AirAsia, AirAsia Japan and AirAsia X – serving 80 destinations, more than 100 Airbus A320s and around 10,000 international staff.