Throughout 2012 we have been reading about how Air Asia is going to expand its fleet and services by buying aircrafts costing by the billion and its group Chief Executive Officer boasting that he wanted to make Air Asia a global brand like Coca-Cola. All these news were repeatedly hammered down on us by the STAR, the English daily newspaper which has given a Director’s seat to Tony Fernandes, the think big CEO, some time this year 2012.
I suspect Tony has bought a lot of shares of the public listed newspaper company for him to be given such an honour. Being strategically minded, Tony could have thought all this out by putting the popular paper in his pocket. All negative news about Air Asia will not be carried by the paper. Very clever move Tony, only you could have been devious enough to cover your questionable actions and any shortcomings suffered by your airline company in this manner: shut the big mouth.
I am also wondering whether this collusion with a major newspaper is a veiled form of corruption. Remember the newspaper tycoon, Rupert Murdoch and his relationship with British politicians, influencing certain decisions? It’s like Utusan Malaysia and UMNO and the STAR and MCA. These two newspapers are not fully independent. Read them at your own risk.
And so we read about news of Air Asia buying 200 planes worth US$18bil here and another 100 airbus worth US$9.4bil here . He and his longtime partner Kamaruddin Meranun were talking about expanding their services even to Africa! And with all those planes coming soon, where the heck are they going to park them? I think eventually they are going to lease out all these planes to other airline companies in the region. Ha, ha, instead of flying the planes, they would be renting the planes. I am not surprised MAS Wings would be forced to rent some planes from Air Asia soon.
With the purchase of additional planes, Air Asia has increased its gearing but it seems to be fine with that because they are sure the Najib’s government would continue to support them (bail them out as well? God forbids!) as it has always done so in the past (started by his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi)
And so you never see the STAR carrying the report about Air Asia not being issued with the customary two-year Air Operation Certificate (AOC) instead it was asked by the regulatory authority to rectify certain operations and given up to March 31 2013 to do this ( a six-month period). This subject has not been highlighted possibly not to cause panic among the no-frills airline passengers.
It is not something that could be traded or treated lightly as lives are at stake if aircrafts are not safe for whatever reasons, period. Air Asia pointed a rude sign to the authority by selling tickets beyond March 31 2013, see advertisement (Fig.1) despite not knowing yet whether it would get the AOC or not. And when some concerned politicians made noise over the temerity, a corrected advertisement (Fig.2) appeared on 12 Dec 2012 in the STAR, Air Asia’s PR vehicle. That’s blinking Fernandes for you!
In the meantime an arrogant Tony Fernandes continues to think and talk big, befitting of an empty vessel making the most noise! His publicity stunts are just legendary, appearing with David Cameron, the British PM and even with Prince Andrew and also given the honour by the Brits to run with the London Olympics 2012 torch! See what a lot of money can do!
Now, what is the current reality on the ground? A letter from a frustrated traveller to a newspaper in East Malaysia on December 16 about an AirAsia flight to Hong Kong (AK1645) on Nov 10 from Kota Kinabalu tells an exasperating story. The passengers on the said flight were told after more than six hours, including sitting in the aircraft idly for about one-and-half hours, that the flight had been cancelled and the passengers would be put on another flight the following day.
Imagine the troubles and inconvenience suffered by the passengers like losing hotel booking deposits, missing re-connecting flights,business,social events etcetera, and adding insult to injury, Air Asia was not prepared to disburse the additional expenses incurred by the travellers. It treats the passengers as they deserved, cheaply. And yet, its CEO could sponsor British Premier League Soccer (albeit the bottom most team) and the expensive Formula One.
I am tempted to express what I really think of this bugger but I have to be politically correct here by not bringing out that bloody character trait of his. And to think that I used to like this guy for his entrepreneurial zeal!
It is also claimed that not all complaints against Air Asia are reported in the media (least of all the STAR!). Its ground services are said to be getting poorer and staff more arrogant and why not? They are imitating their big Boss Fernandes. They are obviously aware that their Boss is one hotshot guy who seems to be immune from any censure and that he can even fight off MAB (Malaysian Airport authority) and get away without paying million of airport rent!
At one time he even threatened MAB with not moving into the multi-million ringgit new Kuala Lumpur LCCT (Low Cost carrier terminal) over some minor issues. This man also tried to get the budget airline passengers to protest against a rise in airport tax. Such bravado is really unheard of before till he comes along out of nowhere… apparently from some dying record company.
We certainly cannot afford to have this kind of businessman who put politicians and print media in his pockets. I hope after the next GE13, somebody with a greater mandate from the rakyat would be able to put Fernandes in his place and to hell with his “think big,talk big” bullshit!
And just as well the MAS-Air Asia share swap deal was unbundled by PM Najib following public pressure. Fernandes can fool some people some of the time but not all people all of the time.