Tombstone Air juggling act of the usual circus show

New AirAsia Exec Chairman Kamaruddin Meranun, welcoming Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah are well tucked in

Tombstone Air looks like are drawing up fresh strategies, to get themselves out of trouble. They are in an enigma of variable elements crushing and probably controlling personality Tony Fernandes crafting something as the apparent downturn and bubble burst on the low class carrier group.

Published: Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 6:56:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 7:02:46 PM

AirAsia’s Kamarudin made executive chairman under re-designation of key executives

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Kamarudin Meranun has been appointed non-independent executive chairman of AirAsia under the group’s move to re-designate its key executives, which came into effect on Wednesday.

The low-cost carrier said on Wednesday the re-designations also involved DatukAziz Bakar and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Kamarudin was the non-independent, non-executive director prior to the re-designation. He would take the lead in engaging with the government, aviation regulators and airport authorities in Malaysia.

He replaces Aziz Bakar  who remains on the board as a non-independent non-executive director. This appointment follows the practice of appointing a Tune Air representative as chairman and is effective from Wednesday.

“Kamarudin has spent more than a decade building AirAsia into the world’s largest low-cost carrier and I look forward to the industry experience he will bring as chair of the Board,” said AirAsia Bhd CEO Aireen Omar.

Aziz Bakar was re-designated non-independent, non-executive director. He was formerly the non-independent non-executive chairman.

As for Fernandes, he was re-designated group chief executive officer and non-independent executive director. Prior to the re-designation, he was the non-independent non-executive director.

The re-designation was after the recent merging of the regional office’s group functions back into AirAsia Bhd.

“As group CEO, Fernandes will provide overall leadership to the group in driving brand value, reducing cost and driving efficiencies to improve performance of the airline and other affiliates within the AirAsia network including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and soon to be India,” said AirAsia.

Fernandes said the regional office set up in Jakarta as AirAsia Asean two years ago has achieved its objective in providing focused leadership to the group and guiding expansion within the region.

“As such, we are merging most group functions back into AirAsia Bhd to ensure alignment within the core management team and to simplify the operation,” Fernandes said.

With this change, Rozman Omar will also return to AirAsia Bhd as group chief financial officer where he will use his extensive experience in finance to develop a group-wide growth strategy that will create long-term value for shareholders. Andrew Littledale will continue as CFO of AirAsia Bhd.

Kamarudin said the changes followed months of discussions between himself and Fernandes, and are aimed at sustaining AirAsia’s growth trajectory.

Aireen remains CEO of AirAsia Bhd and will report to the chairman on regulatory and stakeholder management and to the group CEO on operational performance matters.


Riong Kali dot com report on Tony Fernandes’s strategic sucessor, to immediately swallow their pride and quickly apologise to Utusan Malaysia for AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani’s faux pas and the drama that preceded that.

Now, AirAsia chief says sorry to Utusan over “racist” remark

NOVEMBER 08, 2013

Kamarudin Meranun is now the first  executive chairman of AirAsia. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 8, 2013.Kamarudin Meranun is now the first executive chairman of AirAsia. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim,

November 8, 2013.In a volte face, AirAsia’s new executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun has apologised to Utusan Malaysia over his colleague’s remarks that the Umno-owned daily was racist in its election coverage last May.

The Malay-language newspaper quoted Kamarudin as saying that he had written to apologise for AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman Rani’s remarks. AirAsia X chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had previously said Azran’s views are his own and Malaysians should be allowed to express their views.

“In all honesty, as a representative of AirAsia, I had written to the Utusan group editor to express our disappointment over Azran’s actions which were unexpected,” Kamarudin was quoted as saying in the Utusan report.

Calls made to AirAsia to verify Kamarudin’s comments to Utusan have not been answered.

Azran had criticised Utusan in his Twitter microblogging account for what he reportedly saw as a racial instigation in the aftermath of the May 5 general elections.

He was also reported to have criticised Malay group Perkasa for its hardline stance as an irrelevent organisation that had caused Malays to be myopic.

But Kamarudin told the newspaper that no action was taken against Azran as he should be allowed to learn from the experience.

“Azran is still Air Asia X chief executive officer and has been advised to separate his political stand from work,” said Kamarudin, who became the budget carrier’s first executive chairman two days ago.

Kamarudin and his partner Tan Sri Tony Fernandes own Tune Air Sdn Bhd, which is a major shareholder in Asia’s biggest budget carrier, AirAsia.

The AirAsia group includes operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and soon in India, apart from the long-haul airline AirAsia X. It recently stopped a partnership in Japan.

The Utusan report today also quoted Kamarudin as criticising government-linked-companies which had to be told to advertise in Malay dailies, adding he was embarrassed that it had come to the point where even the leadership had to appeal for advertisements to be placed in these dailies.

“It is even more embarrassing when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself has to appeal to these companies.

“We at AirAsia will continue to place advertisements in Malay dailies, especially Utusan Malaysia. Undoubtedly, we also need your support as Utusan’s role is very important,” he said.

When officially opening Utusan’s new headquarters on September 13, Najib had said newspaper companies cannot rely solely on circulation to stay in business and that advertising was needed to keep the 75-year-old newspaper afloat.

Utusan had said it would not accept advertisements from AirAsia unless Azran apologised for his remarks. But the AirAsia X chief executive has not done so. – November 8, 2013.


The fact is that, AirAsia has been taking a continuous beating. It is for the sins that they have imposed themselves especially to Malaysians these past slightly over ten years with all sorts of schemes.

A bleak nine months in Malaysia Airlines' 65 years history

A bleak nine months in Malaysia Airlines’ 65 years history

First, Fernandes’s ‘Share-Swap’ scheme trying to cannibalise Malaysia Airlines in August 2011 lasted barely ten and half months, before Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak reversed the decision to status quo.

Then Prime Minister Najib allowed a direct competition to the Tombstone Group, Malindo Air to be incorporated and given operating license very quickly. Malindo Air was quick to capture a market previously nearly monopolised by Fernandes’s low class carriers.

The third element which dented Fernandes’s Group financial position is the attempt to incorporate operation via Batavia Air and AirAsia Japan (in partnerhsip with ANA) failed.

PM Najib launches the Malindo Air, in a whirlwind

On top of that, there had been several temporary setback with regards to operations, doubtful safety and risk issues and air operations certificate by regulators.

Then there is the really bad perception of the series of fines imposed against AirAsia, which include Australia. The one by Malaysia Anti Monopoly Commission was a very stiff one, by any standard for a Malaysian corporation to be fined by an authority.

As a result, for two straight quarters AirAsia’s profitability slide downwards. So is the revenue and cashflow position. That contributed AirAsia’s stockprice to slide down from RM4.00 position when the ‘Share-Swap’ scheme was finalised and  inked with Khazanah in July-August 2011 to the neighbourhood of RM2.50-2.60 within the last four weeks.

That is practically losing 35-40% of the value of AirAsia.

Ketua Eksekutif Air Asia X Azran Osman-Rani mencemuh Utusan Malaysia dalam mesej Twitternya

There could be two prevailing reasons for these strategic shuffling at the BOD in AirAsia and Tombstone Air Group. The apology to Utusan Malaysia and attempt to win back the hearts and support of the nationalists and powers that be especially within UMNO leaders is very strategic.

Fernandes could be either crafting another scheme to unload a substantial amount of AirAsia and AirAsia X shares to GLCs, either Khazanah and/or EPF. Now that a substantial shareholder like Kamaruddin is taking the Executive Chairman position, the new player could also be the upcoming ASB2 unit trust scheme under PNB, which Prime Miniser Najib announced in September for the maximum of RM10 billion new investments opportunities under  Bumiputera Economy Empowerment Program.

Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah in a cordial mood with Kamaruddin

Since the past two years ago, Fernandes has been using Kamaruddin to get closer to Tun Dr. Mahathir and get his buy in and endorsement for AirAsia. This is something Fernandes could not do on his own.

The other probablity is that Fernandes and Co are cashing out in a systematic program. After all, tweleve years is a full cycle for a marketeer like Fernandes to stick around for a project even when he had a lot of his own personal stake.

The other reason is that Tombstone Group really in need of additional investments and cheap source of funds. Maintaining their market share needs continuous steady growth and the region is already saturated especially when Singaporean and Indonesian players are taking prominence.

Fly Scoot: SIA’s new low cost carrier, using the phased out SIA’s B777-200s

SIA recent announced expansion program for Silk Airways, Tiger Airways and the recently launched Scoot Air. Malindo Air is set to be the largest low cost carrier in the region, which is expanding also as an intercontinental carrier.

Hence, the Malaysian Government via GLCs like Khazanah, EPF, KWAP and PNB are potential long term private equity and commercial papers subcribers for whatever capital that Tombstone Air needs to raise, to realise their expansion plan.

Kamaruddin aka Din Meranun’s job is exactly that. He is the financial man when the two partnerships meteorically rose the low class carrier. Provide the Malay-ness of Tombstone Air Group and be the Malay face of AirAsia, as he is officially the executive in-charge of Government liaisons. An ex-MRSM and ex-ITM is the face to NEP-ise the AirAsia out of people with false British accent like Fernandes or a nut-forgetting-its-shell Malay like Azran and Aireen.

Show boating: When the chips are down, go to TV

It is has been proven time and again that everything that Fernandes and Co wants to do, got to be taken with a pinch of salt. Changing the ring master doesn’t make the circus and the side shows more interesting or able to achieve new feats.

Published in: on November 10, 2013 at 08:15  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Let them learnt the lessons. Let them compete in the open air !

    But since our gov. being supportive, The Special Tongkat ( of which the x-air asia ceo together with the group’s big boss and the elite group (picture) failed to recognise and blame malays as racist – none of them against the statement made ) of any red zone will become blue and finally green once again.

    Magic hands (you know whom) and VVIPs special privileges( picture again) that do all the bastardizations( DEB degradations they say) reap all.

  2. […] The “thirteen million plus Ringgit” guy rambles…. […]

  3. All those decisions are made by Fernandez, aren’t they? How strong is Din Meranun’s voice there? Not much, I imagine. And wonder if he a proxy for anybody. But, having apologized to Utusan, he appears to be an OK guy – apologizing on his own initiative or whatever.

    However, it’s good that there is the semblance of Malayness or NEP in the airline operations. Although those Malays involved are not the ordinary Malay kind. Sounding so-called liberal and progressive. Even penderhaka bangsa in a few instances.

    I like Vladimir Putin’s method of silencing and making the rich Russians realize their roots – put them behind bars. Remember that Russian oil (and defence?) billionaire whatsthename? Languishing in jail after criticizing the system – was it biting the hands that allowed him become a millionaire during the anarchy of the break up of the Soviet regime.

    Not democratic? Democracy is relative, folks. US still has detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay, whereas Malaysia has repealed the ISA – never mind the amended Prevention of Crimes Act now allows 2 years detention without trial, extendable another 2 years.

    I wish they apply that to the Azran bloke. He must have done other things than accuse Utusan to strengthen the case on his being given “a hibernation period”. The authorities can dig on all that he did and didn’t do in the past.

    • “And wonder if he a proxy for anybody.” –

      Proxy share holder for anybody, I mean. For a substantial numbe of the shares under his name.

      Air Asia was started during Tun Dol’s time wasn’t it, and the “Fourth Floor Boys” were said to have played a significant role. And the Son-In-Law was heading “the Fourth Floor” at that time.

  4. “Malindo Air is set to be the largest low cost carrier in the region, which is expanding also as an intercontinental carrier.”

    Good if so. Anything to knock Tony Fernandez’s ego to size. I don’t mind Air Asia succeeds but the man is so cocky, his underlings also cocky, talk about Terminal 2 expansion delays like they own MAB.

    Btw, have they paid the many millions owed to Inland Revenue on tax colected from px and to MAB for aircraft parking etc?



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