AirAsia Chief Executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has welcomed the new low-cost airline in Malaysia, Malindo Airways, but dismissed that the new budget carrier will be a potential threat to AirAsia Bhd, Asia's largest frills-free airline.
He said the formation of Malindo Airways clearly indicated the growing importance of budget carriers in the global aviation industry, particularly in Malaysia and in the Asean region, in tandem with the Asean Open Skies Policy, which will come into force in 2015.
"I welcome Malindo Airways' establishment. AirAsia had always wanted Asean to be opened up. This is a good step," he told Bernama.
Fernandes quashed claims that Malindo Airways would force AirAsia to bow to pressure due to the keen competition in Indonesia.
He said neither the airline nor the joint-venture partners of Malindo Airways posed any threat to AirAsia's vast airline network in the Asian region.
"The new airline is not an issue for us in AirAsia. We have competed in a country like Malaysia which has a strong airline such as the Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
"We also have in hand a strong team for AirAsia, AirAsia X and AirAsia Indonesia. I am proud of what we have and we will continue to grow.
"We are building a global brand and I don't think that something like this (the new airline) will slow us down," added Fernandes, who is now based in Jakarta, overseeing AirAsia's Asean region operations.
AirAsia Malaysia is now headed by Aireen Omar.
National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd (NADI) and PT Lion Grup today signed a joint-venture agreement to form Malindo Airways which will begin operations on May 1 at KLIA2 in Sepang.
The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The budget carrier will take off with a fleet of 12 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft to destinations between big cities in Malaysia and Indonesia before expanding to other Asian countries.
Malindo Airways is considering offering low fares, even lower than AirAsia, in addition to the in-flight entertainment systems and in-flight connectivity in all of its aircraft. -- Bernama