PETALING JAYA: Capital A Bhd CEO Tony Fernandes expects the aviation group to exit the PN17 status, which has been a millstone around its neck, by end of this year.
His expectation is based on optimism of its growth potential this year following a strong rebound in travel demand post-Covid.
The investment holding group that is involved in aviation, logistics, lifestyle and financial services ventures, plans to submit its finalised regularisation plan to Bursa Malaysia as early as February.
“We can be out of PN17, definitely this year, I hope much earlier (than that). All of the consultants are now going through all the work.
“We hope to submit to Bursa (somewhere between) February and April. So, once we get the approval, then we will go through,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the AirAsia Super App Rider and Driver appreciation event today.
To recap, Capital A fell into the PN17 list of Bursa Securities – a categorisation for distressed entities, in January 2022.
The group previously announced that there was no plan for a merger between its two airlines entities, AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd (AAX), but a separate publicly-quoted aviation group will be formed under the proposed PN17 exit strategy.
Chinese tourists key to its revival
Commenting on travel demand especially from China after its reopening, Fernandes anticipates a “very strong recovery” for the market in view of the overwhelming demand it receives from Chinese tourists.
“We have not started selling in full because we’re applying for all the rights… but we have applied for 19 destinations (compared with about) 24 destinations we had pre-Covid.
“The demand is there. Obviously, flights are very expensive going abroad so we think many people will come to Southeast Asia,” he said.
He expressed hope that the governments do not overreact to the latest Covid variant as it is less dangerous, saying that like everywhere else, the surge in China will likely be over soon.
Fernandes said his main focus currently is getting all the planes to fly again and expects to be at par with the pre-Covid level by July for all markets, not just China.
He said the airline business would be running with 204 planes by May compared with 150 planes it currently has, and there will be no new delivery taking place this year, while 50 new deliveries are expected in 2024.
“People have to understand that it’s taking a little bit of time for airlines to get back, but we’re working very hard. We’re listening to the people. The issues with AirAsia (regarding) on time performance…I think that’s going to be solved. For refunds, I think that’s almost all solved now.
“It all looks positive, but there’s a lot of things still that we have to work on such as the oil price that is still very high and ringgit versus US dollar. Those are the only two kinds of clouds, but demand is very strong and so I believe 2023 will be an important year for us in getting back to where we were,” he said.
He added that AAX would be operating with 14 planes by end-2023 versus eight at present.