It’s interesting to see how the personal rivalry between AirAsia group CEO, Tony Fernandes, and Lion Air group president director, Rusdi Kirana, is developing. A few years ago the rivalry was between Fernandes and Tiger Airways CEO, Tony Davis. But now that Davis has exited the stage, it seems Rusdi has become Fernandes’ new sparring partner. I only hope that the two remain amicable.
Both men have their strengths. Fernandes’ strength is in marketing and brand-building. Kirana’s strength is in knowing how to deal with travel agents. He has also proven to be quite adept in picking long-term trends. For example, Rusdi started buying high-capacity narrowbodies, such as the Boeing 737-900ER, several years before many others woke up and realized that airport slot-constraints, coupled with rising passenger traffic, would make such aircraft a necessity.