AirAsia Expedia and the Expedia group announced Kathleen Tan Chief Executive Officer. She 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 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.
She 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 Officer comments, “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 tremendously when Kathleen gets to work her unique style of brand-building, sales and profits growth”.
On her part, Kathleen says, “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.”