Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is AirAsia working against MAS’ interests?

The proposed establishment of Caterham Jet Sdn Bhd by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes to serve as a super premium airline is mindboggling and comes in the wake of troubling happenings in the Malaysian aviation industry.

One wonders what’s going to happen to MAS. Three months after the share swap deal between AirAsia and MAS, wasn’t any consolidation done? Isn't saving MAS the prime effort now by all its shareholders, including Fernandes, rather than to go and start yet another airline?

For the record, analysts say the quarterly result of MAS is expected to remain in the red for 3Q FY11 ended Sept 30. Analysts do not rule out the likelihood of further losses in the coming quarters.

Some analysts deduce that Caterham Jet will not hurt MAS as it is meant for the super rich to fly in a full executive airline. Others worry it will at least hurt MAS' business and first class sectors – two classes that are cash generators.

So if both the classes are affected, that will reduce the overall yield of an airline, which would be the case for MAS too if Caterham Jet comes into play.

Taxpayers are still wondering about the benefits of the share swap deal between MAS and AirAsia.

At the same time, what is adversely happening on the ground is not in MAS' favour.

The operation of Firefly is shrinking based on reports that certain routes and flights have been cancelled or abolished. Then, despite bleeding financially, MAS has strangely signed a sponsorship deal with the English Premier League football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR).

None of these are helpful to MAS to improve her cash flow. Further, one cannot resist arguing if the QPR deal is valid, taking into consideration that QPR is owned by Fernandes who is also an executive director of MAS.

The key task of MAS shareholders is to save the national airline — and this includes Fernandes. Agreed, he is a businessman and is free to venture into businesses but surely not at the expense of MAS. MAS does not need any competition at this time and the sooner stakeholders take this point into account and put into place a strategy to turnaround the national carrier, the sooner the positives would emerge.