AirAsia seeks China joint venture

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KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia wants to have a joint venture in China to tap into China’s booming travel industry.

“I believe there is a strong chance of that happening so we have to wait and see,” Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia Group, told CNBC.

Fernandes said several interested parties had approached AirAsia but that it was too early to make a decision.

“Everyone looks at just bringing the Chinese out, but we have a dual market where a lot of Southeast Asians are going out to China,” Fernandes was quoted as saying.

AirAsia currently flies to 15 Chinese destinations, including secondary and tertiary cities. Fernandes said China contributed nearly 19 per cent to the budget carrier’s 2015 revenue.

Fernandes said: “We are not interested in developing what has already been developed…what we have been good at is developing new markets, new traffic, and opening up different parts of China.”

It had earlier been reported that AirAsia was looking at a possible new listing in the Hong Kong bourse.

“A consolidated AirAsia where we own 100 percent of all the airlines, can be moved forward through a different listing,” Fernandes told CNBC.

Fernandes said he wanted “a simple airline,” and this might, therefore, result in the sale of its ancillary businesses.

“I want to simplify the business, simplify the accounts on the consolidation aspect, so analysts and everyone else can understand it,” he said.

“The stock market is not giving us any value for what I call my non-core businesses… if you add all those businesses up, it’s about RM5.5 billion in value,” he told CNBC.

Shares of AirAsia Group have risen 133.33 per cent year-to-date.