AirAsia’s Teleport launches 737-800 freighter

The move will further complement its growing cargo operations, bringing its current active fleet to a total of 252 planes 

by ANIS HAZIM / pic by TMR

THE fortunes of AirAsia group of companies appear to be on diverging trajectories. AirAsia Group Bhd’s logistics arm, Teleport, is on the up with its latest move being the launch of a dedicated 737-800 freighter with its unique livery. 

It will further complement its growing cargo operations while reinforcing AirAsia’s move to become a substantial cargo play in the region. 

The dedicated freighter brings its current active fleet to a total of 252 planes (including AirAsia’s passenger planes) and will enable greater consistent capacity on key air cargo routes across South-East Asia. 

Teleport COO Adrian Loretz said the growth of cargo services in emerging markets and the increase in air cargo revenue due to e-commerce and technological developments has spearheaded the company’s focus in this space. 

“We are certain the addition of the freighter under our belt will reinforce our stand in the industry, with more to come in the coming year. 

“It not only demonstrates our confidence in the growth potential but also aids in scaling our operation to meet the air cargo market’s needs which include palletised loads over loose loading and demand for a solid base frequency, reliable schedule and specific departure or arrival times,” Loretz said at a virtual media launch on Wednesday. 

Stationed in Bangkok, the aircraft is able to reach key markets including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chennai, Mumbai and all the major destinations in South-East Asia from Thailand, connecting long-haul markets to South-East Asia through containerised capacity. 

The freighter’s fully containerised main deck and large volume capacity of 21T total max payload are also capable of carrying numerous items under the dangerous goods category as per the International Air Transport Association regulations, including Lithium batteries. 

Teleport’s CEO Pete Chareonwongsak (picture) said the addition of the freighter to the fleet will accelerate the company’s goal to shift from being a pure air freight logistics provider to a complete multi-modal operator. 

“We’ve always been on a fast-track growth route to continuously propel Teleport’s air cargo business forward by spotlighting our commitment towards moving anything across South-East Asia. We look forward to what’s in the pipeline not just for Teleport but for everyone in the industry,” he said. 

Teleport’s 737-800 Freighter was acquired through a multi-year agreement with Thailand’s express freight airline, K-Mile Asia. 

“Their expertise in operating these aircraft with high reliability and punctuality will allow us to extend our regular cargo schedule to meet these specific demands to key cities in Asia,” Loretz stated of the partnership with K-Mile Asia. 

K-Mile Asia CEO Kledchai Benjaathonsirikul foresees a long-term partnership between Teleport and K-Mile Asia as they grow the logistics industry together. 

“At K-Mile, our business is focussed on-air operations for express integrators and charter services, and we will deliver the reliability and quality required to support Teleport’s speed and network,” Benjaathonsirikul said. 

Teleport plans to add-on six additional freighters by 2023 to meet the strong demand the company anticipates. 

Loretz said Teleport is starting to generate additional demand across the region and serve the market opportunity with dedicated freighters as its long-term strategy. 

Chareonwongsak believes Teleport can go beyond the target number (six freighters) with its focus on the South-East Asia market. 

He stated that China-based cargo transporter, JD Logistics, plans to add on a hundred freighters by 2030 reflects the potential for growth. 

He added that Teleport is in the process of raising fresh capital in the amount of US$50 million (RM207.5 million) to U$100 million “to take us to the point of which in three years’ time, we can list the company”. 

Teleport is expected to contribute about 25% of revenue to AirAsia’s aviation by then, he added. 

While the cargo business is on the up, the financially embattled AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) was classified a Practice Note 17 (PN17) by the exchange this week. 

Aviation consultancy Endau Analytics founder Shukor Yusof said AAX will need to raise a huge amount of money in order to repay its debts. 

“It’s hard to see how AAX can recover unless it is able to raise huge sums of money to repay its debts. It looks like the airline is in a state of limbo,” said Shukor in a text reply to The Malaysian Reserve. 

Last Friday, AAX announced in a bourse filing that the group is now classified as a PN17 after its external auditor Messrs Ernst & Young 

PLT (EY) expressed a disclaimer of opinion on its audited financial statement for the 18-month financial period ended June 30, 2021. 

As such, AAX now has 12 months to regularise its financial condition, failing which it will be delisted. 

According to the Public Investment Bank (PublicInvest), this is not the first time AAX triggered the PN17 criteria. 

AAX had on July 30, 2020, triggered PN17 criteria after its share-holders’ equity on a consolidated basis fell to less than 25% of its share capital. 

AAX was not classified as a PN17 company back then, however, due to relief measures provided by Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd on listed issuers during the Covid-19 pandemic period. 

EY had also issued an unmodified audit opinion of its ability to continue as a going concern in respect of AAX’s audited financial statement for its financial year ended Dec 31, 2019, the investment bank noted on Monday. 

PublicInvest expects AAX will continue to face severe liquidity constraints. 

“All hopes are on successful debt restructuring, new equity funding from existing and new investors to provide sufficient capital to restart operations when international borders reopen,” it noted. 

The investment bank retained its ‘Underperform’ call on AAX with a target price of one sen. 

AAX share price fell one sen to 4.5 sen on Wednesday. The stock value has halved since last Friday when it closed at 9.5 sen.