AirAsia strengthens leadership team; Capital A announces strategic aviation business disposal – AirAsia Aviation Group (AAG) is gearing up for a new era of growth with strategic leadership appointments and an ambitious fleet restoration plan. In a move aimed at shaping the future of the airline group, the airline has appointed Datuk Captain Chester Voo as Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Airline Operations) and Farouk Kamal as Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Corporate).

Photo from AirAsia

Datuk Captain Chester Voo, with over 11 years of experience at AirAsia and leadership roles, including CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), will spearhead Airline Operations. His focus will be on optimizing and enhancing efficiencies across core airline functions, as well as identifying and mitigating potential risks to improve overall performance.

Farouk Kamal, former CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Urusharta Jamaah, brings a wealth of experience from the Government Linked Investment Company (GLIC) and investment banking with Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, and Credit Suisse. As Deputy Group CEO (Corporate), he will oversee Corporate functions, including Finance, Corporate Finance, Aircraft Leasing, Legal, Investor Relations, and Strategy.

Bo Lingam, Group CEO of AAG, emphasized the significance of these appointments, stating, "As we enter a new era, these leadership appointments signify a significant milestone in the airline's evolution, steering AirAsia through an era of digital transformation, innovation, and sustainable growth."

Both Captain Chester and Farouk expressed their commitment to the airline's future. Captain Chester Voo stated, "The focus on efficiency, risk mitigation, and performance improvement will be instrumental in navigating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we shape the future of AirAsia Aviation Group." Farouk Kamal highlighted the importance of aligning Corporate functions with broader goals to contribute to financial success, reputation for excellence, and innovation.

In parallel news, Capital A Berhad, the parent company of AirAsia, announced the strategic disposal of its aviation business to AirAsia X Berhad. The proposed disposal includes AirAsia Berhad (AirAsia Malaysia) and AirAsia Aviation Group Limited (AirAsia subsidiaries in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Cambodia).

CEO of Capital A, Tony Fernandes, explained the rationale behind the move, stating, "We need to raise funds for business expansion, but gaining access to capital has been challenging due to Capital A’s Practice Note 17 (“PN17”) status." The sale aims to create an aviation pure play, consolidating both long and short-haul airlines under the AirAsia brand, potentially unlocking greater value for shareholders.

Fernandes expressed confidence that separating the aviation business from Capital A would bring greater clarity to investments, create a more focused shareholder base, and unlock value for shareholders. The decision aligns with market preferences, providing clearer understanding, valuation, and appreciation for the distinct strengths of both aviation and non-aviation businesses.

Following the sale, Capital A shareholders will become shareholders of the two listed companies. Teleport (logistics), Capital A Aviation Services (MRO and Inflight), and MOVE digital, among other non-aviation businesses within the group, are set to raise capital, offering shareholders an uplift on their Capital A shares.

An announcement has been made through Bursa Malaysia, and Capital A is committed to presenting a comprehensive PN17 regularisation plan by 30 June 2024, demonstrating dedication to transparent communication throughout this process. The move reflects the company's commitment to navigating challenges and opportunities in a rapidly evolving aviation industry.