Thursday, July 31, 2008

Air Asia: People will still want to fly

By Biz Times

BUDGET carrier AirAsia Bhd expects to resolve any outstanding issues it has over the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) charges in two weeks.Group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said he met with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad on Monday to discuss the amount it owes the airport operator."I am optimistic that we can resolve this because it was a meeting of minds... the issue with MAHB is coming to an end," he said, but did not elaborate.Fernandes was speaking to reporters at the inaugural session of investPenang's "The CEO Speaks" series in Penang yesterday.

Fernandes presented a talk on "Branding: Jazzing Up Your Business", which was launched by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.AirAsia is disputing the amount it owes MAHB because it believes that charges at the LCCT should be lower than the KL International Airport's main terminal.It was reported that the actual amount accumulated since 2002 varies from the RM60 million mentioned in some reports to up to RM110 million as reported in Parliament.The matter was reported to have been brought to the Finance Ministry to resolve."It is a bonus for us to clear that," Fernandes said, adding that the low-cost carrier business is a new one and therefore took a little longer for various parties to understand its operating concept.

Asked whether AirAsia is planning to settle its debts with MAHB, Fernandes said: "We have resolved whatever historical issues which are outstanding and will need further discussions on the future."On the business outlook for AirAsia amid rising fuel costs, Fernandes said: "Despite 24 airlines around the world going bust, I am optimistic that people will still want to fly and we will continue doing what we are doing and ride through the storm."