Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- AirAsia X Sdn., the long-haul affiliate of Asia’s biggest discount carrier, may add at least 60 more aircraft to support possible hubs in Japan and Australia.
The carrier, which has a backlog of 30 Airbus SAS planes, “could triple our orders,” Chief Executive Officer Azran Osman Rani said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “The existing orders are conservative.” He declined to give specific details on how many planes the carrier may add or when.
Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia X may open a base in Japan to work with affiliate AirAsia Bhd.’s planned venture in the country, Rani said. The long-haul carrier and Qantas Airways Ltd.’s Jetstar have won passengers from full-service carriers in Asia with low fares, prompting Singapore Airlines Ltd. to draw up plans for its own budget long-haul unit.
AirAsia X may eventually operate flights to Guam and Honolulu from Japan on behalf of AirAsia Bhd.’s venture with All Nippon Airways Co., Rani said. The long-haul carrier, which currently flies to cities including London from Malaysia, may also open a base in Australia.
“A unit in Australia is definitely a possibility,” Rani said. Still, it will probably take at least two years before this happens, he said.
AirAsia X’s plans to hold an initial public offering have been delayed by talks to sell a 10 percent stake to Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state-controlled investment company, Rani said. The sale is part of a wider deal that also included the purchase of a stake in Malaysian Airline System Bhd. by Tony Fernandes and other AirAsia Bhd. shareholders.
AirAsia X is currently owned by AirAsia Bhd., Richard Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd., Manara Consortium, based in Bahrain, and ORIX Corp., based in Japan.
--Editors: Neil Denslow, Vipin Nair
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