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‘Air virgin’ heads JetStar Asia

Chong Phit Lian is being appointed as chief executive officer of budget carrier JetStar Asia, as of March 14th 2006.
Chong Phit Lian will replace Ken Ryan, who returned to Sydney in December to take up a new senior role at Qantas, JetStar Asia’s main shareholder, Orangestar Holdings Pte Ltd said in a statement. Neil Thompson, another Qantas executive, had been JetStar Asia’s acting chief executive officer following Ryan’s departure.

Chong is currently chief executive and president of The Singapore Mint. She is also the director of several companies in travel, hotel, lifestyle and leisure businesses within Singapore’s SembCorp Industries Group covering Singapore, Malaysia, China and Spain, the statement said. Chong will be the first Singaporean chief executive of JetStar Asia, which was launched in 2004 and is 49 percent owned by Australian carrier Qantas.

In response to media reports that Ms Chong has no aviation experience, Orangestar Holdings, which owns and runs JetStar Asia and Valuair stated: “No airline experience is no problem because Ms. Chong brings with her a wealth of management and business development experience”.

JetStar Asia absorbed Valuair, a Singaporean budget carrier, last year amid increasing regional competition.