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AirAsia chief says new Japan venture possible

AFP-JIJI

>Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia might join a new venture in Japan, chief executive Tony Fernandes said Wednesday.

His comments came a month after AirAsia agreed to dissolve its joint venture with All Nippon Airways over management differences.

AirAsia Japan is expected to close by the end of October, just over a year after it started flying out of Narita airport.

“We had a lot of the staff from AirAsia Japan who have approached us and said we really want to continue with this AirAsia vision,” Fernandes told reporters on the sidelines of a promotional event in Singapore.

He said some of the investors in the new venture could be current employees of AirAsia Japan but declined to give details.

“It has to be a fresh venture, it can’t completely be mine,” he said.

Announcing the dissolution of AirAsia Japan in June, the Malaysian carrier cited a “fundamental difference of opinion between its shareholders on how the business should be managed, from cost management to where the domestic business operations should be based”.

ANA, however, said the venture dissolved because it was not well known in Japan and couldn’t turn a profit.

ANA is expected to launch a new budget brand in November, with the airplanes leased by AirAsia Japan returned to the Malaysian carrier after operations cease in October.