Monday, July 25, 2011

Airasia moving HQ to Jakarta - Right move?

Airasia, a brand that originates from Malaysia has always been directing from its HQ in KL. Now, it has announced that it is moving to Jakarta. Why? Here I think are the few reasons:
  1. Airasia, while has been given quite a number of landing rights by the Malaysian government, its relationship with them has never been smooth. From buying the company at RM2 from DRB-Hicom about 10 years ago, it has grown its operations into a very respectable one - or probably one of the most respected airline globally. Currently, the company is valued at RM10 billion or more by investors. Despite that, its growth has always been hindered with the government not allowing them to operate off Subang airport and having been too slow to build a new low cost terminal to handle the volume that is ever growing. Note that, for several times Airasia has postponed the delivery of aircrafts from Airbus most probably due to current airport not allowing it to grow fast enough. Hence the very government that allowed the sale to Tony the airline has now hindered its growth.
  2. Tony Fernandez has always been on the lookout to grow its business from anywhere that can provide them opportunities to even growing further. My last check, Airasia is flying to 68 destinations from Kuala Lumpur while it is only flying to 22 destinations from Jakarta. To obtain the route rights, it needs the assistance from the government in countries where it intends to fly from and land into. Hence, this is probably why Tony is willing to move - i.e. to grow Airasia even further.
  3. Furthermore, just look at Indonesia alone, other competing airlines such as Merpati Air and Garuda have much more routes. Airasia if provided the route rights will benefit much more from there. I do not know what are the arrangements that the Indonesian government has provided to Airasia for the latter to move the HQ to Jakarta but looking at the moves that Tony has made before, it could be substantial. Tony is a negotiator and he is good at it. He is not afraid to make drastic decisions and the latest is another example to prove a point as well as showing who's the boss. At Airasia's size currently, he thinks he can be the boss, even to the Malaysian government. (I like that)
  4. Operationally, while it may not be a smooth one to move from KL to Jakarta but an airline business is one which can be managed from anywhere in the region, what more from an airline which thrives through online booking, not so much via agencies. If it is implemented well, in fact it may save Airasia costs and to Tony saving costs is what it matters while it still manages to execute. After all, Airasia is never popular for its services. It is just there to provide the best bang for your buck to its users - that is what makes it successful. Hey! Ryanair is one of the most hated brand in Europe but look at them grow.
  5. For a while, Indonesian airlines have always been viewed negatively until at one point of time, no Indonesian airline is allowed to fly to Europe. On safety, Airasia is viewed positively. Airasia by growing big in Indonesia will bring something to the country what the current bigger airlines in Indonesia are not able to bring immediately. Hence, to Indonesia besides creating jobs will be a win-win situation for the country.
  6. Look at all the benefits - tourism, airport tax, jobs, country's airline perceptions, business travel etc. Indonesia sees it and Malaysia does not see it - this goes to both the government of Malaysia and its opposition who sometimes say things that does not make sense.
In the end this move I think is positive for Airasia but a loss to Malaysia - yet again.

Serious Investing!

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