AirAsia Expedia Appoints Kathleen Tan as Chief Executive Officer

On December 23, 2013 at 06:02 AM

AirAsia Expedia Appoints Kathleen Tan as Chief Executive Officer

SINGAPORE, 4 JANUARY 2013– AirAsia Expedia (AAE), the unique joint venture between AirAsia, the world’s best low cost airline, and the Expedia group, the world's largest online travel company today announced Kathleen Tan as Chief Executive Officer.  In this role, Kathleen will oversee the Expedia brand, AirAsiaGo, and Backick online travel agency (OTA) businesses in Southeast Asia, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia group President and Chief Executive Officersaid, “We are thrilled to have a business leader of Kathleen’s caliber join the AirAsia Expedia joint venture.  She has an impressive track record in building AirAsia into Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier over the past eight years, and we are delighted to have those skills brought to the AirAsia Expedia joint venture.  Furthermore, her substantial knowledge of Asia’s travel landscape and proven business acumen will be immensely valuable in taking AAE to future heights.”

Kathleen previously served as AirAsia’s Group Head of Commercial and Senior Vice President of China since 2004, acting as Group Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Tony Fernandes’s right-hand woman managing AirAsia’s top-line performance and overseeing up to fifteen departments across the six AirAsia-branded airlines.  During the past eight years, Kathleen’s strategic vision, boldness, and leadership have grown AirAsia’s revenue twenty-fold to over RM 10 Billion (US$ 3.5 Billion) in 2012.  Kathleen has scaled up AirAsia’s network from less than twenty planes to nearly 130 planes, creating the #1 low-cost carrier in Asia-Pacific, the biggest airline network in Southeast Asia, and the top foreign LCC into China.  In addition, Kathleen has transformed AirAsia’s brand into one exemplified by its signature cool, bold red and recognized and admired worldwide.  The brand has won numerous accolades, culminating in being named “World’s Best Low Cost Carrier” an unprecedented four years running by 19 million travelers voting on Skytrax, and the brand equity is now valued at an impressive US$428 Million by Brand Finance Plc.  As such, Kathleen is a highly-respected figure in the travel industry, including being named a Top 10 Most Influential Woman Leader in Travel by WebInTravel and being dubbed an “aviation legend” by Baidu, China’s largest search engine.

Kathleen has always been a pioneer, from having the foresight to spot the immense potential of China and making AirAsia the first low-cost carrier serving China in 2005, to driving product innovation, including assigned seating, mobile booking, and ancillary sales online.  She has also spearheaded AirAsia’s social media strategy and development early on.  AirAsia’s social media presence is ranked #1 in Asia-Pacific by multiple metrics.  As an avid social junkie, Kathleen herself has over 200,000 fans on Sina Weibo and is ranked in the top 2000 most influential social media users among around 300 million Weibo users.  Remarkably, her individual Weibo account would rank as #4 among airlines in China.

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officersaid, “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. As AirAsia progress towards the second decade of success, we feel comfortable in letting Kathleen move to AirAsia Expedia.

“Our focus for the next five years is ancillary and adjacent business. The potential of AirAsia Expedia is enormous. Having Kathleen driving the business gives me huge encouragement and I am sure AAE and the OTA industry will escalate tremendouslywhen Kathleen gets to work her unique style of brand-building, sales and profits growth” he added.

Kathleen is no stranger to the OTA industry, having managed the AirAsiaGo OTA business profitably prior to it being transferred to the AAE joint venture upon formation.  She drove the joint venture formation discussions with the Expedia group, representing AirAsia, and has served on AAE’s board of directors since day one.

On her part, Kathleen said, “The last eight years in AirAsia have been the most awesome ride I ever had in my career.  I thank Tony, Kamarudin and the AirAsia Board, who always have had the greatest faith in me and have given me the opportunity to fly high in the world of AirAsia. And a big thank you to my wonderful commercial staff and Allstars in AirAsia who embraced and inspired me every day.  I am truly delighted to take on a new challenge in the OTA industry which is a natural progression, as travel still excites me greatly.  Indeed, it’s a big honour to work for two of the world's most powerful brands and I'm excited by my new appointment. I look forward to taking AAE to another level and build further growth.”

“Asian consumers can look forward to the widest range of travel products at great prices with AirAsia Expedia,” she added.

About AirAsia Expedia

AirAsiaExpedia is the joint venture company between the world's leading online travel company, Expedia Inc. and the world's best low cost airline, AirAsia. Headquartered in Singapore, AirAsiaExpedia oversees both Expedia and AirAsiaGo businesses across Asia Pacific.

Expedia currently operates full-service localised sites in India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, helping travellers plan and book their travel by providing a personalised service, the latest technology, as well as a wide selection of over 150,000 hotels and 400 airlines of holiday packages, flightsand hotel bookingsto suit their travelling needs. Expedia also has hotel-only sites operating in Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.

As one of the fastest growing online travel portals in Asia, AirAsiaGo offers travellers an extensive selection of hotels, activities and travel services at competitive rates. With over 100,000 hotel partners worldwide and AirAsia’s complete flight inventory available on the site, travellers can book everything they need for a holiday – rooms to meet every budget, activities of every kind and travel services to compliment. 


About the Expedia group

The Expedia group is the largest online travel company in the world, with an extensive brand portfolio that includes some of the world’s leading online travel brands, including:

  •®, the world’s largest full service online travel agency, with localized sites in 30 countries
  •®, the hotel specialist with sites in more than 60 countries
  • Hotwire®, a leading discount travel site that offers opaque deals in nine countries on its eight sites in North America and Europe
  • Egencia®, the world's fifth largest corporate travel management company
  • eLong, the second largest online travel company in China 
  •®, the online hotel reservation specialist in Europe
  • Expedia Local Expert®, a provider of in-market concierge services, activities and experiences in 18 markets worldwide
  • Classic Vacations®, a top luxury travel specialist

The company delivers consumers value in leisure and business travel, drives incremental demand and direct bookings to travel suppliers, and provides advertisers the opportunity to reach a highly valuable audience of in-market travel consumers through Expedia®Media Solutions. Expedia also powers bookings for some of the world’s leading airlines and hotels, top consumer brands, high traffic websites, and thousands of active affiliates through Expedia®Affiliate Network. For corporate and industry news and views, visit us at www.expediainc.comor follow us on Twitter @expediainc.


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