Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's Tony's Game Plan?

There were enough headlines involving Tony Fernandes of Air Asia in the recent week that followers of the spat between him and MAHB or Malaysia Airport has become bored. I thought the public quarrels have become childish especially with Air Asia leading a fight against hike in airport taxes and using his personal car to plaster posters when MAHB removed them from the airport buildings. Point taken and it seems MAHB is cowered for misprojecting KLIA2 to be even larger than KLIA. Wasn't it supposed to be only a low cost carrier terminal which suddenly grow into a full fledge airport with runways able to accept A380?

Today I was surprised by the 2 page advertisement announcing Air Asia's 10th anniversary and its proud achievements. It is a good boast for a Malaysian company. But I am even more surprised by THIS news that Tony plans to step down. Was he strengthening his airline with the recent developments of Air Asia squirreling into MAS via a share swap that some people believed there was some impropriety on the part of Air Asia? And the fight with MAHB to contain the airport tax as well as a demand for a Service Level Agreement from them? Now Tony announced his retirement from the airline he founded 10 years ago. Remember a month ago Tony announced he plan to start up a premium airline to be called Caterham Jet? Well, I googled and found Tony owns Caterham Group that build racing cars and he himself is principal of Team Lotus. Looks like Tony is starting a new airline under his flagship and growing a new niche. For a guy who loves challenges (and Air Asia is no longer challenging after 10 years) stepping out is the natural thing to do. THIS NEWS about MAS launching its own premium airline next year claimed no connection with Caterham Jet. For two premium airlines from two competing Malaysian airlines operating under different productivity environment and management culture no guess which will succeed. For Caterham Jet, Tony is probably bandying a new tagline to befit the new flying experience. How about 'Flying High' or 'Fly in Style'? Or better still, 'If You Have The Money, You Can Fly'.

Update: Tony denies HERE he is resigning. Nonetheless signs are pointing to a management transition, if not next year certainly 2013 or 2014. Every great organization require leadership change to bring it to greater heights.

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