Kathleen Tan heads back to AirAsia as president of North Asia division

AirAsia has appointed Kathleen Tan (pictured) as its president of its North Asia division. She will be  responsible for building the China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea and Taiwan markets.

Mid last year, Tan resigned and stepped down as chief executive officer of AAE Travel, AirAsia Expedia’s board.  She was appointed as the CEO of AirAsia Expedia in January 2013 and had served on the board of directors since the formation of the joint venture in 2011.

AirAsia has slowly but steadily been increasing its focus on the Chinese travellers.  Most recently, the flight announced the commencement of AirAsia’s direct daily flights from Guangzhou which is expected to result in an increase number of Chinese tourists entering Johor Bahru.

“Today, China contributes nearly 40 percent of our revenue but there is still a lot to do in North Asia. It is an important long-haul market that will take on greater significance once AirAsia Japan launches, and I couldn’t think of anyone more suited than Kathleen to drive our business there,” Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO, said.

The airline is poised to make Johor Bahru the gateway for Chinese travelers to visit Southern Peninsular Malaysia. The daily flights connecting Johor Bahru and Guangzhou will be the airline’s 17th route into China from Malaysia, and the second route into China launched this year after Shantou.

Spencer Lee, AirAsia Berhad head of Commercial had then said AirAsia’s southern hub of Johor Bahru is one of the key development points for the company this year . The new route will further increase our market share in Johor Bahru.

“Kathleen lives and breathes North Asia. She was the first to spot the massive potential of China when no budget airlines operated to it. She made sure we were the first low-cost carrier to fly to China and built a strong network of 14 hubs there,” Fernandes said.

“After a one year hiatus, I am physically and mentally well-rested and I am very excited to be able to team up with Tony once again. North Asia is close to my heart and I look forward to pushing AirAsia’s engagement there even further. What we have achieved in China is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much more we can do to position AirAsia as the low-cost carrier for the region and I won’t rest until everyone knows our name,” Tan said.

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