AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes says new Japan venture possible

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia could enter into a new venture in Japan, its chief executive Tony Fernandes said on Wednesday.

His comments came a month after AirAsia agreed to dissolve its joint venture with All Nippon Airways (ANA) over management differences.

AirAsia Japan is expected to stop operating by the end of October, just over a year after it started flying out of Tokyo's Narita airport.

"We had a lot of the staff from AirAsia Japan who have approached us and said we really want to continue with this AirAsia vision," Mr Fernandes told reporters on the sidelines of a promotional event in Singapore.

He said some of the investors in the new venture could be current employees of AirAsia Japan, but declined to give further details.

"It has to be a fresh venture, it can't completely be mine," he said.

Announcing the dissolution of AirAsia Japan in June, the Malaysian carrier cited a "fundamental difference of opinion between its shareholders on how the business should be managed, from cost management to where the domestic business operations should be based".

ANA however said the venture dissolved because it was not well known in Japan and could not register profits.

ANA is expected to launch a new budget brand in November, and the airplanes leased by AirAsia Japan will be returned to the Malaysian firm after operations cease in October.