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General Industry

AirAsia Changes Name To Capital A As It Grows Beyond An Airline

By Dave Simpson

Malaysia's AirAsia Group Bhd has said that it has changed its name to Capital A Bhd to reflect its growing portfolio of businesses beyond the core budget airline.

Hard Hit

The airline business has been hard-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic due to strict travel rules in Asia, leading Malaysia's stock exchange to this month classify the firm as financially distressed though it has been raising funds to bolster its balance sheet.

Name Change Proposed Last Month

The group proposed changing its name on 3 January.

Investing Heavily

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Capital A has been investing heavily in payments business BigPay, logistics arm Teleport and its mobile Super App to gain other sources of revenue, though they remain in growth phases and were loss-making in the quarter ended 30 September, 2021.

Statements By Chief Executive

"Over the past two years we have spent the downturn in flying building a solid foundation for a viable and successful future, which is not solely reliant on airfares alone," Capital A chief executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement.

The airline business will retain the AirAsia brand, which is well known in Asia, he added.

Fernandes told reporters at a launch event in Kuala Lumpur that the carrier, which has five affiliate airlines including long-haul operator AirAsia X, planned to introduce two more to its stable. He declined, however, to give further details.

The group is also seeking to raise approximately one billion ringgit this year, as it continues efforts to regularise its finances, Fernandes said.

"The group has more than enough liquidity...we're very focused on growing and adding value," he said.

Seats Filled And Number Of Passengers

The carrier last month reported that it filled 80% of seats on offer in the fourth quarter of 2021 and had the highest number of passengers since the start of the pandemic as travel rules began to ease.

Malaysia's Capital A Eyes Separate Listing Of Aviation Business

The above news was followed by news that Capital A Bhd, which owns Malaysia's flagship budget airline AirAsia, is forming an independent board for its aviation arm while mulling a separate listing of the business as the market recovers, its chief said on Friday 11 February.

Capital A chief executive Tony Fernandes told reporters in a virtual briefing that all companies under the group, including the airline, would be managed independently, and that the parent group intends for the airline to list.

"I think that's up to the board at the right time when they think they need to list and raise capital independently, but definitely from Capital A's board, that is very much a plan," he said.

The group appointed a veteran from the telecoms industry, Jamaludin Ibrahim, as the non-executive chairman of AirAsia Aviation Group Limited, who said that the full independent board will be announced soon.

Fernandes said that the group aims to get all its 200 planes flying in six months, expecting a full recovery of the business in the fourth quarter even if China, which contributes high tourist numbers, does not reopen borders fully.

"We are anticipating China not to be fully open, but we can cover that with other territories," Fernandes said, pointing to the growing number of travellers domestically and within Southeast Asia.

AirAsia is flying 45% of its fleet, and aims to grow its Indonesian fleet from seven to 30 by year-end.

Capital A has also launched an aviation consulting business to help set up non-AirAsia branded low-cost airlines outside the ASEAN region for other owners. It is already working on two projects.

Last month, the group was tagged as a financially distressed company by the national stock exchange. Firms with that tag may be de-listed if they fail to regularize their finances within a set time frame.

Capital A said that establishing the aviation arm's independent board was not related to the parent company being classified a financially distressed firm. Capital A is addressing the matter itself.

The group said that it is working on a plan to "regularize its financial condition", and, as mentioned above, seeking to raise approximately one billion ringgit this year.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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