AirAsia relocates regional headquarters to Jakarta

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Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced that it will place a greater emphasis on regional growth opportunities in the Asia Pacific.

"It has become abundantly clear to us that as we enter our second decade, there needs to be a major shift in our perspective, strategy and operations if we are to sustain our trajectory," said AirAsia in a statement. "In short, we need to pivot to a wider, regional lens from the first decade's focus, which was largely domestic."

The company is restructuring its management to focus on regional growth. It stressed that the headquarters for AirAsia's Malaysian operations will remain in Kuala Lumpur, but the company's de facto headquarters will move to Jakarta where it has set up an operation called AirAsia Asean.

It foresees the AirAsia Asean operation in Jakarta performing a similar role to Ryanair's head office in Dublin, Ireland.

"AirAsia Asean will provide us with an environment free of the pressures of day-to-day operations and the necessary "fire fighting" that accompanies these endeavours, and allow our senior managers the space, the time and the interaction so vital to keep us flying higher in our second decade," said the company.

AirAsia pointed out that AirAsia Malaysia has 58 Airbus A320 aircraft serving a population of 30 million in Malaysia, while AirAsia Thailand has 24 aircraft serving 70 million and AirAsia Indonesia has 18 aircraft serving 240 million.

The company stated that Malaysia is a maturing market, while Thailand, the Philippines and Japan offer "tantalising possibilities for the group's bottom line".

Although AirAsia's regional ambitions are well known given its string of regional joint ventures, today's announcement comes just over one month after a share swap deal between government-controlled Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia were officially terminated.

AirAsia attributes the relocation of its headquarters to Jakarta to its desire to be near the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat and its hopes of raising the profile of Indonesia AirAsia.