Friday, April 03, 2009

Air asia X raising fund again.

By the star

AirAsia X is looking at a capital-raising exercise via an initial public offering (IPO) or a private placement to raise funds for future aircraft purchases.

The airline wants to add the Airbus A350 XWB wide-body aircraft to its fleet but any firm order will only be made after the manufacturer is able to firm up delivery dates.

“This year is a watershed year for us in terms of profitability. Our equity value has increased and so have our intangibles. This opens up avenues for equity funding and, in the long term, an IPO or even a private placement is possible,” chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani told StarBiz.

“It will be when the equity markets turn around and this could be in 2010. Our equity value gives us more capital-raising capabilities and our audited results will have a very compelling story to tell,’’ he said.

It is learnt that investment bankers are already crunching numbers for the airline’s IPO but Azran laughed it off when asked to elaborate.

The last time AirAsia X placed out shares was at the end of 2007/early 2008, to British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, Japanese leasing firm Orix Corp and Bahrain-based Manara Consortium, to raise funds to start up its operations.

AirAsia X is confident of turning in net profit of RM150mil to RM200mil for the current year ending Dec 31 on revenue of about RM1bil. With this revenue, Azran said, the company would join the ranks of many firms making up the KL Composite Index.

The income will come mainly from its mature routes, such as Gold Coast and Hangzhou, and its profit margins are 20% to 30%. Its cost is low at 2.8 US cents per available seat kilometre and, despite the global slowdown and a slump in air travel, Azran said the airline enjoyed load factors of 75% for the first three months of 2009. For 2008, it was 77%.

Its recently launched London route will only be profitable in a year.

To order new aircraft requires a deposit. “We would be in a position next year (for that). We will have more capital for the deposit,’’ Azran said, adding that he was looking at 25 to 50 A350s as “our’s is an even bigger story going forward’’ and expansion of long and medium-haul routes would be its thrust going forward.

Since flying to London, it has had several US airports knocking on its doors. For Azran, it will be either New York or Los Angeles. The airline would be ready “as early as July’’ to ply the transatlantic route, especially New York, he said, provided it obtained the rights. If not, it should be later this year or 2010.

That should come with a stopover in London but a direct flight is Azran’s dream, which can only be achieved with a long-range aircraft, thus the need for the A350.

A highly-efficient, medium-capacity and long-range aircraft, the A350 is expected to take to the air in 2013. Thus far, Airbus has received over 400 orders.

“We are in extensive discussions with the manufacturer but it is no point placing an order now as the maker cannot firm the delivery dates. We want to see sufficient development to the A350 assembly line, then there will be certainty to commit,’’ he said.

The aircraft will be used to ply the American and African continents, Russia and eastern Europe. The existing A330 and A340 will be used for new routes to Sydney, the Middle East and part of its expansion into Asia.

“This (order of 25 to 50 aircraft) is nothing, look at what other airlines, such as Qatar Airways, are ordering – 100 planes at one go! By going into long-haul markets, AirAsia X will be competing with the bigger boys in the industry and it needs a fleet size to support that route expansion,’’ Azran said.

* With many China's route they are tapping into and with help from our Malaysia transport ministry tapping into India's market. Do u think Air Asia X will make it? What's the PEST or SWOT analysis of Air Asia X? If is viable, i think many ppl will be queuing up to get a share of Air Asia X.