Businessman Julpas Kruesopon insists his investment in Thai AirAsia X (TAAX), the long-haul low-fare carrier in the formative stage, has nothing to do with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Mr Julpas, 47, said the 10% holding in TAAX is purely an individual investment with no connection to Thaksin, who some think could be behind the deal.
Speculation was fuelled by the early history of the 10-year-old Thai AirAsia (TAA), Thailand's largest low-cost carrier (LCC) operating on short-haul domestic and regional routes, which was 50% owned by the telecommunications group Shin Corporation, founded by Thaksin.
Shin, since renamed InTouch, sold its entire TAA stake in 2006, and the airline is now majority owned by the SET-listed Asia Aviation Plc.
The speculation also stems from Mr Julpas's political inclination towards the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
"My stake in TAAX has absolutely nothing to with him [Thaksin] or any political connection," told the Bangkok Post. "After all, it does not involve a lot of money, only 40 million baht, which I can afford."
TAAX was formed earlier this year to pursue the creation of Thailand's first locally registered long-haul low-fare carrier under the umbrella of AirAsia Group, the region's largest LCC.
With paid-up capital of 400 million baht, TAAX is 41% owned by TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld and 49% owned by Malaysia's AirAsia X Bhd.
Mr Julpas said his investment in TAAX is based on his "trust" in Mr Tassapon's AirAsia brand and management and the god business potential of TAAX, although he claims to have no interest at all in the aviation industry.
He said he was offered the 10% stake by Mr Tassapon and would not be reluctant to increase the holding in TAAX if given the chance.
Having a long-haul low-fare airline based in Thailand is good for the country's tourism industry, while providing a low-cost transport option for Thailand, said Mr Julpas.
TAAX is expected to take to the skies in next year's first quarter.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business