Here’s an interesting story: reports indicate that AirAsia is about to embark on a share-swap deal with its chief competitor and Malaysian national flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Sources have told Malaysian newspapers that the budget carrier will gain a 20% share of MAS under a partnership agreement.

The companies have supposedly been negotiating the deal for the past year. The sources also say the Malaysian government’s investment arm Khazanah Nasional will get a share in AirAsia and Tune Air Sdn Bhd will receive a stake in MAS. AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes is also CEO of Tune Air, which itself owns a 26% share of AirAsia.

Neither Malaysia Airlines or Khazanah Nasional, its 70% shareholder, are commenting on the matter. It’s understood a formal partnership between the two rivals would enable them to compete more effectively in the global market, and bargain from a position of greater strength with airports and aircraft manufacturers.

AirAsia, which focuses on the budget end of the market, recorded a profit in Q1 of 2011 while Malaysia Airlines, which focuses on the traditional and higher end, recorded a loss and is undergoing a management restructure.

source & article: Channel NewsAsia