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No plans to sell Air Asia X stake: CEO

Al Ain, October 12, 2009

AirAsia's long-haul, low-cost unit has no plans to sell an equity stake in the carrier, its head said on Monday.

Air Asia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani had said in August that the unit was in talks with Middle Eastern investors to help boost its equity base in 2010.

"We don't have any plans to sell a stake and we're not actively looking for investors. We don't need cash at the moment," Osman-Rani told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

Bahrain-based Manara Consortium took a 10 per cent stake in Air Asia X last year. The carrier was launched in 2007 and flies to destinations in China, Australia and the UK from its Kuala Lumpur base.

Last month, parent company AirAsia, Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier by fleet size, raised $144.4 million in a new share placement.

Osman-Rani also said the airline did not expect to see a loss in the fourth quarter.

"In the fourth quarter, we'll keep our heads above water," he added, saying the carrier's unit costs were lower than rival airlines. "We don't expect to be in a loss-making position. Yields are still going to be pressured."

Osman-Rani said the second quarter was the most difficult for the carrier, in terms of pressure on yields and passenger load factors, but volumes picked up in the third quarter.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) trade group said last month that the outlook for global airlines this year had worsened, projecting $11 billion in losses amid weak passenger and cargo demand.

The industry lost $8.5 billion in 2008, when record high oil prices weighed on results. Iata said it expects passenger traffic to fall 4 per cent in 2009.

Osman-Rani also said the carrier wanted to expand its destinations.

"In the three-year horizon, we probably expect to add a couple of airports in the Middle East," for flights to Malaysia, Osman-Rani added.

"Jeddah is a possibility. We would like to get Jeddah." – Reuters




Tags: Bahrain | Sales | equity | Al Ain | Manara | Air Asia |

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