The formation of Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) has taken another step forward after a Thai national was hand-picked to lead the launch of the country's first locally registered long-haul low-cost carrier (LCC).
Appointment of the chief executive, whose identity has not been released, comes after co-founder and major shareholder Tassapon Bijleveld declined to assume the post himself as expected earlier, citing his other duties.
Mr Tassapon, 47, is chief executive of both Thai AirAsia and the SET-listed Asia Aviation Plc (AAV), itself the major shareholder in TAA, Thailand's largest LCC.
As well, he recently took on the post of chief executive of AirAsia Greater China, the regional body looking after the burgeoning Chinese market for the no-frills AirAsia Group's affiliated airlines.
"I simply cannot do all the work myself, but I will oversee TAAX from above," Mr Tassapon told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
Expats from AirAsia X Bhd, the group's Malaysian long-haul LCC, will help to ensure TAAX gets off the ground smoothly in its first year of operation with support from TAA, now in its 10th year of service.
The plan is to have TAAX run entirely by Thais in the second year, said Mr Tassapon.
He confirmed TAAX's shareholding structure, which saw Julpas Kruesopon, president of Panda Security (US & Asia Pacific) and an adviser to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, emerge as the third TAAX shareholder.
Mr Julpas owns 10% of TAAX, with Mr Tassapon and AirAsia X Bhd holding 41% and 49% stakes, respectively.
The new company has paid-up capital of 400 million baht.
Mr Tassapon made it clear that his role in the joint venture for TAAX is in a personal capacity and not related to AirAsia X Bhd or its directors or shareholders.
TAAX expects to receive approval for an air operator's licence this month after submitting its application the Civil Aviation Department on June 20.
The airline will then apply for an air operator's certificate to complete the process of licensing, which may take another three months.
That would allow TAAX to take off in next year's first quarter, initially from its base at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport to South Korea and Japan.
These highly competitive routes with strong demand from Thais will be served by two Airbus 330-300 wide-body jets.
TAAX will be the first sister airline of AirAsia X Bhd, which took to the skies in in 2007. Through TAAX, Bangkok will be its first hub outside Kuala Lumpur.
AirAsia X intends to establish other hubs in Indonesia and the Philippines, where it hopes to leverage the group's other airlines to provide it with additional feeder traffic. It currently serves 15 destinations in Asia and Australia with a fleet of 13 A330-300s.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business