AirAsia Group’s CEO Tony Fernandes said in Jakarta the AirAsia ASEAN regional office would help the airline to better prepare itself for the implementation of the ASEAN Open Sky policy and the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
Besides Indonesia, ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“We are here not to control the market, but to grow the aviation business and we hope AirAsia ASEAN will help spur ASEAN integration,” he added.
“The establishment of the AirAsia ASEAN office in Jakarta as our regional base is to help to more fully deliver our pledge — ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’ — to all the people of ASEAN and beyond,” Tony said on the sidelines of the launch, which was held to coincide with the eve of the 45th anniversary of ASEAN.
“Shifting our emphasis to a regional strategy is, we believe, not just good for business, but also a move that will keep us ahead of the inevitable competition that is heading our way.”
By focusing on regional growth, AirAsia expanded its market base to 600 million people and brought ASEAN closer, within a four-hour flight radius, to the massive populations of China and India as well as Japan and Korea, he said.
Tony and his deputy, Dato’ Kamarudin Menarun, are now based in the Jakarta office.
The new office will operate very much like the Ryanair office in Dublin, Ireland, which serves as the strategic planning center of Europe’s largest budget airline.
All AirAsia CEOs in the region and Asia attended the launch: Indonesia AirAsia CEO Dharmadi, Malaysia AirAsia CEO Aireen Omar, Thailand AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld, AirAsia X CEO Azman Osman Rani, AirAsia Japan CEO Kazuyuki Iwakata, and the chairman of AirAsia Dato’ Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar.
He said he picked Jakarta as the center of the group’s expansion because the city was very vibrant, full of tremendous culture, opportunity, and the fact that it was the location of the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters.
He also said that the group was planning to set up pilot training centers and schools in near future in several locations such as Batam, Indonesia; Penang, Malaysia; Thailand and Singapore.
Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) CEO Dharmadi said that the regional office would significantly benefit Indonesia, especially in tourism sector.
“It automatically helps promote Indonesia and its beautiful tourism destinations. We are very happy that Jakarta has become the base of the world’s largest carrier,” Dharmadi said.
He said that he believed IAA would be able to compete with other carriers in Indonesia with the new brand. “Together with Batavia, we have 45 aircraft that fly both domestic and international routes this year,” he said. Moreover, the company is going to receive five new Airbus A320s every year until 2018 to help expand its network. AirAsia is a Malaysian-based low-cost airline and has been dubbed a pioneer in low-cost travel in the Asian continent.
The group currently operates scheduled domestic and international flights to over 400 destinations in 25 countries with its main hub at Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s Low-Cost Carrier Terminal.