After a brief halt, AirAsia Group has resumed its overtures to partners in Cambodia, China, and Myanmar as it seeks to found new franchise units in these countries. However, it has abandoned plans to launch a unit in Viet Nam, Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes told Nikkei in an interview.

Fernandes added that the airline was prioritising the lookout for a partner in Cambodia. Technically, Cambodia does not have foreign ownership limits on airlines and AirAsia Group could establish a unit in this country without a local partner.

Plans for a Chinese unit were more of a long-term idea, but Fernandes underlined that AirAsia needed to "stay relevant" in the country.

The low-cost group pulled the plug on new foreign ventures earlier this year, at that time saying that it would halt the establishment of new units for three years. In early 2018, it was reported to be in talks with now-defunct FMI Air (ND, Yangon) regarding the establishment of a Myanmarese unit. Plans to launch AirAsia Cambodia (Phnom Penh) were first reported by the local media in 2017 but never materialised. In turn, AirAsia China (Zhengzhou) was dropped in late 2018 after there was no progress in talks with the China Everbright Group and Henan Government Working Group, with whom AirAsia signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017.

Fernandes underlined that the airline did not change its mind on AirAsia Vietnam (Da Nang), which was dropped in April 2019.

"I don't have any plans in Vietnam for now after trying three times. We cannot find the right partner and now I think there are too many airlines there. Our time will come," Fernandes said.

The stillborn Vietnamese unit was to be created together with Gumin Company Limited and Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company.

AirAsia Group currently has units in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Japan. In Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia it also operates long-haul "X" airlines, although the Indonesian one has transitioned to a charter carrier.

Fernandes also reiterated his commitment to launch an AirAsia-branded marketplace, which would also sell tickets of other carriers, as well as other travel products. The platform will be operated by Kiwi.com. Going forward, AirAsia plans to launch a separate online booking platform, Ikhlas, for Muslim-oriented travel. This would somehow mimic the move by rival Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l), which set up a Hajj-focussed charter unit Amal by Malaysia Airlines.