While Tony Fernandes has wowed the F1 world with his deal with US giant General Electric, the Malaysian entrepreneur said last week on his Twitter feed that there are more sponsors to come. One that needs to be watched closely is Sonangol, the Angola national oil company. There are certain to be some B2B possibilities if Fernandes’s AirAsia decides to either start flying to Africa, or partner with an African company to create flights to Malaysia. Sonangol owns its own airline called Sonair, which runs mainly domestic services but has a service to Houston and plans for expansion.
Last week the Malaysian former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, speaking at the inaugural Malaysia-Africa Business Forum in Putrajaya, said that “it is the lack of air connectivity that has limited the ties between Malaysia and African nations from flourishing. Perhaps we should persuade Air Asia to fly to Africa”. At the same time the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyidden Yassin pointed out that Malaysian trade with Africa is $7.8 billion a year, which is tiny compared to the country’s trade with Germany at $12 billion. The Paris Air Show this week will see an announcement of another huge deal for AirAsia with Airbus for as many as 200 A320neo planes, worth $18 billion at list price. Airbus plans to introduce the A320neo from the end of 2015. General Electric is likely to win an order to supply engines for the fleet.