AirAsia ‘seeks control’ of rival Malaysia Airlines

KUALA LUMPUR, August 8, 2011 (AFP) – Fast-growing budget airline AirAsia is pushing for management control of loss-making rival Malaysia Airlines under a reported share swap, a source with knowledge of the deal told AFP Monday. Trading in the shares of national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia-based AirAsia was suspended on Monday following press reports that the swap could give the latter a 20 percent stake in its rival.

But AirAsia is arguing in ongoing talks that obtaining management control is “the key” in the deal, which is reportedly aimed at turning around struggling Malaysia Airlines, said the source, an industry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An announcement on the plan could be made as early as Tuesday, said the official, who added the size of the stake could be up to 30 percent.

AirAsia is run by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes, who acquired the former government-linked airline a decade ago when it was struggling to make an impact. He has since turned the no-frills carrier into one of the aviation industry’s biggest success stories, rapidly expanding its route system over the years and undercutting Malaysia Airlines with its bargain airfares.

Analysts welcomed reports on t