PLANS TO launch a second Malaysian international carrier are being revived, 15 months after flag carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) blocked the start of AirAsia.

Heavy Industries of Malaysia (HICOM) and 15% joint-venture partner Mofaz Air are understood to be drawing up new plans to launch AirAsia, initially as a charter carrier. AirAsia would serve regional destinations such as Taiwan and, possibly, Japan.

Approaches have been made to leasing companies, including Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services, General Electric Capital and International Lease Finance, inquiring about availability of aircraft.

AirAsia initially requires one or two aircraft, possibly Boeing 737-200s, -300s or 727s. The company's delivery dates range from the middle of 1996 to the end of the year.

HICOM's new plans for AirAsia have been scaled down compared to those proposed in 1993. The airline had then been discussing acquisition of a substantial number of 737s and 767s, and had filed applications to compete against scheduled MAS services to Hanoi, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Osaka.

The Malaysian Government, under pressure from the then-new MAS chairman and 32% owner, Tajudin Ramli, blocked plans for the new carrier in 1994. HICOM and Mofaz were instead given a licence to establish a ground-handling company, Kuala Lumpur Airport Services.

Elsewhere in Malaysia, plans by local construction and timber company Ekran, to establish the new regional carrier Saeaga Airlines, have run into difficulty. Both the Sabah and Sarawak state governments have so far, failed to come up with the cash needed for each to take a 40% stake in the new carrier.

Saeaga has already taken delivery of two de Havilland Dash-8-200/300s and a Canadair Regional Jet, but has not yet received its air operator's certificate.

Source: Flight International