AirAsia plans for only one JV in next five years: CEO

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AirAsia plans to set up only one more joint venture airline in the next five to 10 years, and this will be outside Southeast Asia.

The Malaysian low-cost carrier's group chief executive, Tony Fernandes, says in a series of tweets that after doing an "analysis of all businesses for the next five years", the company has ruled out joint ventures in places such as Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

It will instead concentrate on its existing partnerships in a "fantastic spread of countries", namely Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan. The plan is to "build all of those" into the size of the flagship airline in Malaysia, adds Fernandes.

AirAsia had been hoping to set up a joint venture in Singapore, but it has been consistently rebuffed by the country's aviation regulators. The island, however, has extensive services from the other AirAsia carriers in Southeast Asia and Fernandes says this allows the company to "serve it well".

He adds that there has been "great progress in Indonesia and Thailand", and the listing of Indonesia AirAsia is "next" for the company.

With a "very strong" AirAsia brand in Southeast Asia, the airline is looking outside the region for the one remaining joint venture. Options include India, Taiwan and Australia, according to industry sources.

AirAsia has also "bought all" of the aircraft that it needs, says Fernandes. In December, the airline ordered an additional 36 baseline Airbus A320s and 64 A320neos. This gives it a total backlog of 75 baseline A320s and 264 A320neos, Flightglobal Pro data shows.

Fernandes says that AirAsia's cash position is "very strong", its balance sheet is "impeccable", and that the fourth quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013 are looking "very strong". Cost and volume are "key", he adds.

"That's what this business is about," he says, adding that all of its tools are "in place".