KUALA LUMPUR - AirAsia, Asia's largest budget carrier by fleet size, may list its Thai unit by the third quarter of 2011 to raise capital and expand its fleet size, a Malaysian newspaper reported on Thursday.
Malaysia's AirAsia, which owns 49 percent of Thai AirAsia with a market value of $500-$550 million, will select investment banks by the end of this month for the listing, the Malaysian Reserve quoted a Thai AirAsia official saying.
"Once Thai AirAsia is listed, the balance sheet will be strong enough to finance purchases of planes on its own," Thai AirAsia Chief Executive Tassapon Bijleveld told the newspaper.
The proposed listing comes as another budget airline Cebu Air priced its share sale last week in the Philippines' largest ever IPO, underscoring a strong Asian equity market and growing interest in the booming regional travel industry.
Thai AirAsia plans to more than double its fleet to 40 planes from 19 currently, within the next five years, Bijleveld said.
AirAsia officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Malaysian parent has earlier said it plans to offer 30 percent of its Indonesian and Thai units to the public in listings in their respective stock exchanges next year.