MAS, AirAsia consider forming regional service centre

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) are discussing various issues for collaboration that could see the former utilising MAS maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to make Malaysia the region’s premier aircraft servicing hub.

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said if that happened, a mega MRO between MAS and AirAsia could challenge Singapore’s MRO.

“If you put the volume of MAS and AirAsia, it becomes a mega MRO that can become a real competitor to Singapore’s MRO,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2011.

Apart from MRO collaboration, both parties could also become big players in the area of training using the training capacity of both airlines.

“Malaysia can become Asia’s biggest trainer of pilots by harnessing the strengths of both airlines which have excellent records of pilot and engineering quality,” he said.

He added that AirAsia was also looking at other areas of collaboration with MAS, such as in cargo and catering to help cut costs and maximise revenue for both airlines.

“AirAsia does not use LSG (Germany-based LSG Sky Chef is an in-flight service provider) for catering but together, we may get a much better deal from LSG and better quality. So, these are the revenue, cost and new business opportunity ideas,” he said.

Fernandes said more details on cost and revenue joint ventures with MAS would be announced soon.

Reiterating the need for branding. he said both parties needed to ensure MAS and AirAsia were globally recognised.

He was very optimistic about the collaboration (between the airlines) becoming successful despite receiving some sceptical comments from certain parties.

The collaboration came about after Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the major shareholder of MAS, announced that it would take up 10% stake in AirAsia while Tune Air Sdn Bhd, the investment vehicle of Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, would own a 20.5% stake in MAS under a share-swap deal.

Both Khazanah and Tune Air have agreed not to sell their shares for a period of 30 months under the share-swap deal.

On top of the share swap, a collaboration agreement was signed simultaneously by MAS, AirAsia and AirAsia X, which would effectively see MAS concentrate on being a full-service premium carrier, AirAsia on being a regional low-cost carrier (LCC) and AirAsia X, a medium-to-long haul LCC.

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