KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 ― AirAsia Group Bhd (AAGB) has gained gross proceeds of US$56.83 million (RM239 million) from the merger between Fly Leasing Ltd and Carlyle Aviation Partners.

In a statement today, the low-cost airline said it had acquired 3.33 million of Fly Leasing’s shares on August 30, 2018 as part of a cash-in-kind consideration for the earlier divestment of AAGB’s aircraft leasing operations undertaken by Asia Aviation Capital Ltd to entities managed by BBAM Ltd Partnership.

Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the transaction was a much-welcomed boost to the group’s overall fundraising strategy, alluding to the group’s plans to raise up to RM2.5 billion through a combination of borrowing and equity raising.

“We have already raised RM336.5 million from two tranches of private placements earlier this year and continue to renegotiate leasing terms with all of our lessors.

“We have also disposed of 32.67 per cent of our interest in AirAsia India for US$37.68 million, ceased operations in Japan and sold a number of spare engines worth over US$130 million,” he said.

Fernandes added that the group has a number of fundraising initiatives in place to ensure sufficient liquidity.

“We are in the process of finalising a Danajamin Prihatin Guarantee Scheme loan, working on a data-backed loan of up to US$350 million and preparing for a rights issue of up to RM1.02 billion which is targeted for completion in December,” he said.

Moving forward, he said the group remained optimistic about its ability to not only survive the ongoing effects of the pandemic, but also to return to the skies stronger than ever in the near future.

Fernandes said domestic air travel is likely to gradually resume in the third quarter of 2021 and international travel should start in 2022.

He added that the group foresees a major resurgence in air travel due to huge pent up demand, as well as the acceleration of vaccination rates, better testing, education, tracing and the push for digital health passports in all of its key markets.

“Our digital transformation strategy to become more than just an airline is also gaining strong momentum across all of our non-airline businesses.

“Further updates on AirAsia’s fundraising strategy will be announced in due course,” he added. ― Bernama