Fernandes kiboshes AirAsia, Skymark bid reports

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AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes has denied that the Malaysian carrier is planning to launch a takeover offer for Japan’s Skymark Airlines.

“AirAsia has no interest in Skymark in Japan,” Fernandes said on Twitter. “There have been no discussions with Skymark.”

Earlier, Skymark’s share price soared following a report carried in Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review citing unnamed sources claiming that AirAsia was among parties interested in taking over the struggling Japanese carrier. Fernandes's tweet dismissed the report as "rubbish".

Fernandes adds in his tweet that AirAsia is “focused on new airline,” an apparent reference to its plans to establish a new joint-venture in Japan, which is planned to launch in the third quarter of 2015. The Malaysian carrier has partnered with Japanese companies Rakuten, Noevir Holdings, Alpen and Octave Infrastrcture Fund to launch the carrier.

AirAsia’s previous venture in Asia, in which it partnered with All Nippon Airways, was dissolved in October 2013 following disagreements between the two shareholders over the airline’s strategic direction.

Skymark has struggled under the weight of the weak Japanese yen and growing competition from low-cost carriers such as Jetstar Japan and Peach Aviation. It recently reported a Y5.5 billion ($53.6 million) loss for the first quarter of 2014. Airbus also recently cancelled its order for six A380s after the carrier expressed concern that it may not be able to fund the delivery of the aircraft.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that Skymark operates a fleet of 30 Boeing 737-800s and three Airbus A330-300s, all of which are leased. It also has seven other A330s on order.