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AirAsia HQ stays in Malaysia

July 26, 2011

Representative office to be set up in Jakarta

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Bhd headquarters will remain rooted in Malaysia though a representative office will be set up in Jakarta to drive the Asean integration agenda.

“Nothing changes. AirAsia’s head office is in Malaysia and our listing is on Bursa Malaysia,” AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said in an SMS from London yesterday.

He said the office in Jakarta was “just a regional office to build relationships with the Asean Secretariat (which is also) located in Jakarta (and) to work towards a one Asean sky and aviation authority like Europe’s joint aviation authority.”

He added that Malaysian companies had to plan ahead for the Asean economic integration and the carrier just like other Malaysian companies was planning ahead (by setting up an office in Jakarta).

“The benefits to Malaysia of an Asean economic community is huge and Malaysian companies should be in the forefront of this,” he said.

This affirmation follows “the wave of hysteria” that was sparked after he made a statement in Tokyo on Friday that the carrier would establish “a regional office in Jakarta.”

Though he claims that “some press were just being mischievious” in assuming his statement meant that the airline’s head office would move from Malaysia to Jakarta. He and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani were seen furiously yesterday trying to put into perspective what was said in Tokyo.

The reports, some from Indonesia, had sparked a conversation on the social networks yesterday and many people jumped to give their views via Twitter, Facebook, with some bloggers blogging about it.

The sentiment of readers were mixed some sad and hurt by the move, others felt it was a natural progression, while others joked about it.

One tweet read ” … AirAsia is moving to Botswana and rebrand as Air Africa” while another asked “… how come (after the rebuttal was issued by Fernandes), you previously said that AirAsia HQ would be located in Indonesia?”

Separately AirAsia said “there are absolutely no plans, nor the inclination, to move the headquarters of this Malaysian-incorporated company out of the country. And our Malaysian-registered fleet of aircraft will continue to operate from the LCCT.”

The Malaysian flag carrier on Friday in Tokyo had inked a joint venture with Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways to set up AirAsia Japan and it was during this event Fernandes talked about the Jakarta office.

AirAsia has joint ventures in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The AirAsia statement said “the office in Jakarta is to be called AirAsia Asean, an entity set up under the aegis of AirAsia. The main goal of AirAsia Asean is to broaden our branding as a “Truly Asean?airline and extend our outreach to various groups in the region in regards to aviation policies within Asean.”

It added that as it grew, it is imperative that it engaged with all parties interested in aviation and tourism throughout the region including governments, non-governmental organisations and the media in Asean to put forward its ideas regarding the growth of the tourism industry and aviation policies in this region that it called home.

“Indonesia’s growth trajectory is set to increase its share of Asean’s GDP in the years to come, and AirAsia is but merely moving ahead of the curve in locating AirAsia Asean in Jakarta to help increase our visibility and profile in the region’s most-populated nation.

“This is particularly relevant at this time with AirAsia Indonesia heading for a listing on the Indonesian stock exchange. We believe that having our Asean representative office in Jakarta will also help our group coordinate more effectively with the Indonesian authorities and interact more closely with the 240 million people in that archipelagic nation to better serve them in their increasing need for affordable and convenient air travel,” the statement said.

It added that “we are of the firm conviction that AirAsia Asean’s outreach efforts from Jakarta can eventually benefit not just the aviation and tourism industries in the region, but also help AirAsia boost the economies of all Asean countries with Malaysia, in particular, gaining substantially given the increasing connectivity established by AirAsia from our LCCT hub in Sepang?

This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.