Caterham cock-up, coming next change

Another of Tony Fernandes’s hair-brain scheme of trying to milk the cow of others, would be translated in the form of executive travel through Caterham Jet. Initially announced two years ago, Caterham Jet failed to get AOC and now tweaking its way of getting airborne by 2014.

Caterham Jet could fly as early as next year, say sources

BY JAHABAR SADIQ, EDITOR
NOVEMBER 18, 2013

AirAsia executive chairman Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 18, 2013.AirAsia executive chairman Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim,

November 18, 2013.Malaysia’s Caterham Jet has signed a preliminary agreement to buy a majority stake in Berjaya Air that could see the super-premium carrier taking to the skies as early as January if local regulators approve its routes, say sources.

AirAsia chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had announced Caterham Jet’s plans two years ago but it failed to get a Malaysian air operator certificate (AOC) that would allow it to run a commercial jet operation from Subang Skypark.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Fernandes and partner Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun have struck a deal where their Tune Air Sdn Bhd will acquire at least 51% of tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Air, which has a full AOC to operate from Subang Skypark. Tune Air is a major shareholder in Asia’s biggest budget carrier, AirAsia.

The Department of Civil Aviation now only allows turbo-prop planes to carry passengers on a commercial basis from Subang Skypark. But a thriving private jet business is growing at the airport, the nearest commercial airport to capital Kuala Lumpur.

“There is a deal on the table between Tune Air and Berjaya. Now, it is up to the regulators to approve it and Caterham Jet can start as soon as that happens,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

“The regulators are to meet soon on this before the year ends,” he added.

In November 2011, Fernandes had said he was launching a new premium airline called Caterham Jet to compete with Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines as well as the recently announced RedQ premium airline from Qantas, aimed at high-flying executives travelling in Asia.

The Sun Daily had reported that the regional airline would initially fly a Bombardier CRJ700, serving Bangkok, Jakarta and Singapore from Subang Skypark outside Kuala Lumpur.

The super-premium jet carrier would charge business-class fares but could appeal to businessmen who want a quicker ride from a smaller airport nearer the city rather than take red-eye flights out of KLIA, the international airport which is 70km from Kuala Lumpur.

Tune Air officials have remained tight-lipped about Caterham Jet but Kamaruddin told The Malaysian Insider recently that they had two Bombardier CRJ700 jets that were available immediately to start operations.

Another six were on order and would be delivered soon, he said.

Apart from regional routes, sources said Caterham Jet was eyeing other regional markets including the Middle East which has several premium carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Gulf Air apart from tycoons who own personal jets.

“There is a market for chief executives and others, be it in Southeast Asia or the Middle East. Something like Caterham Jet has huge potential,” an aviation source said.

Caterham Jet would increase business in Subang Skypark where Berjaya Air has turbo-prop flights using the De Havilland Dash 7 and ATR 72 planes to destinations such as Langkawi, Pangkor, Penang, Redang, Tioman and international destinations Hua Hin and Singapore.

The other carriers operating out of Subang Skypark are Malaysia Airlines’ Firefly and Malaysian-Indonesian joint-venture Malindo Air. – November 18, 2013.

*****************

This was thought to be Fernandes’s initial scheme to get himself operating out of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang (SZB), since DCA would not allow his AirAsia to operate from the former Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL).

It is probably true there is a growing market for executive travel, especially amongst the high and mighty and socialites within Klang Valley.

A CRJ700 with Caterham livery

A CRJ700 with Caterham livery

However, most of these travelers who form a very niche market would prefer to be discreet, when they travel. Departing and arriving out of Subang Skypark, which saw tremendous growth in community travel especially single day flyers, is hardly a terminal known for discretion.

Never mind the fact that Caterham Jet would probably carry a gaudy livery, inline with Group’s branding.

An AirAsia A320 airliner with Caterham livery

An AirAsia A320 airliner with Caterham livery

Even if Caterham Jet will provide an exclusive holding lounge, there would be cases where passengers being whisked in and out of these CRJ700s be seen on the tarmac and/or in and out of these terminals.

It is most likely that Fernandes saw this new executive travel scheme for an opportunity for branding, more than the actual business. Thrown in with gleaming white Flying Spur Bentleys as the limousine to collect and send clients from their doorsteps would be a very good advertising material where Fernandes could further prop himself and the Tune Group further.

A CRJ700 with the livery more resembling AirAsia

By the way, Fernandes would have to opt for Bentleys, Mercedes Benzes or BMWs as the limousine since Caterham cars would simply not do the job.

Would Caterham Jet sustain? Frankly, we doubt it. Probably most of the executives who are potential clients where this very niche market is catered for prefer to fly through their existing private contractors, which could provide them with the discretion that they expect.

Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 13:00  Comments (4)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/caterham-cock-up-coming/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Waaa, he wants to have a finger in so many pies. And different kinds of pies also.

    That QPR FC hefty fine if imposed would cause him stomach ache maybe. Maybe that’s not business for him, just a past time, like Richard Branson has a past time on ballooning, though not costly.

    Well, if Tony makes a big business mistake and fall, it might be a big one. Wonder how many banks lend him money. CIMB will prop him up sure. Until it appears good money chasing bad money, they say.

  2. Executive private jet business is higher level of service than legacy airline business which he hates so much.

    Will Tony F be doing a new business model on this air travel model? Low cost private business, perhaps.

    Looks to be a ploy by this roti canai seller minded Tony to have Air Asia fly from subang by masquerading as executive private jet.

  3. […] The  fact is that Fernandes is coming up with another hair-brain scheme and trying to get others to pay for it. In the past, his commercial greed brought about schemes that he bite but never could properly chew. It is reflective of projects which are not properly thought through. […]

  4. […] short, pretentious-accented Fernandes proven himself in a very short time he cocked things up. Why? He over-sold, he had no substance, his ideas are deffective, he entered into the ill-intent […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: