Kathleen Tan appointed CEO of AirAsia Expedia venture

PHOTO: Kathleen Tan appointed CEO of AirAsia Expedia venture

SINGAPORE - AirAsia Expedia (AAE), a unique joint venture between AirAsia and the Expedia group, has appointed Ms. Kathleen Tan as its Chief Executive Officer.

Ms. Tan will oversee the Expedia brand, AirAsiaGo, and Backick online travel agency (OTA) businesses in Southeast Asia, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Kathleen previously served as AirAsia's Group Head of Commercial and Senior Vice President in China since 2004, where she was right-hand woman to Group Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Tony Fernandes.

During the past eight years,AirAsia's revenue grew twenty-fold to more than RM 10 Billion (S$4.3 billion) in 2012. AirAsia's network has also increased from less than twenty planes to close to 130 planes, making it a top low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Asia-Pacific; the biggest airline network in Southeast Asia; and the top foreign LCC which flies into China.

Under Ms. Tan's leadership, the AirAsia brand has become exemplified by a signature cool and bold red colour recognised and admired worldwide.

The brand is now the Skytrax for the fourth year running and has a brand equity of US$428 million (S$523 million).

She was also named a Top 10 Most Influential Woman Leader in Travel by WebInTravel and has been dubbed by Baidu as an "aviation legend".

Ms. Tan helped AirAsia become the first low-cost carrier to serve China in 2005, and grew the carrier's product innovation, implemented assigned seating, mobile booking, and ancillary sales systems.

She also spearheaded the development of AirAsia's social media strategy early on. Today, AirAsia's social media presence is ranked number one in Asia-Pacific by multiple metrics.

As an avid social junkie, Ms. Tan has over 200,000 fans on her Sina Weibo account and is ranked in the top 2,000 most influential Weibo users.

Remarkably, her individual Weibo account also ranked as #4 among airlines in China.

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's Group Chief Executive Officer said: "Kathleen came to

Malaysia not knowing anything about aviation, but her determination has led her to overcome every challenge and today she holds the pulse of Asia's travel market."

Ms. Tan said of her new appointment: "I am truly delighted to take on a new challenge in the OTA industry as travel still excites me greatly."