Timothy Ross - UBS's global sector head for airline research and Asian regional head of transport research - has packed his bags. He has decided to leave the world of international equity research to set up his own consultancy, to be called Ross Aviation Finance & Consulting. He will be based in his home country of New Zealand.

The new company will focus on industry analysis, benchmarking, route planning and development and is looking to be paid for advice. Ross is also looking to undertake certain bespoke research projects for airline operators as well as specialist air travel investors.

"As an analyst you have a view from 10,000 feet, but as a consultant I will take a more granular approach," he says. "I will be looking at the specific needs and goals of certain companies."

It is understood that one of his first roles will be with Malaysia's AirAsia, whose board he will be joining later this year.

Ross spent 13 years with UBS, joining the firm in New Zealand. He then moved to New York before landing in Singapore in 1997. From 1998 to 2001 he was based in Hong Kong before moving back to New Zealand in 2001. Most recently he was one of the team involved in the IPO of Jet Airways in India.

Understandably Ross takes a fairly bullish view of the Asian air travel market. He says that leading operators such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are not burdened by the balance sheet, pension or debt problems of the US carriers, which will allow them to carry on expanding.

Also the growth of domestic markets in China and India as well as the on going development of the low cost market will keep activity bubbling along. He thinks that operators such as Hainan Airlines in China, Garuda and Lion Air in

Indonesia, and SpiceJet and Air Deccan in India could undertake IPOs in the next few years. A final trend he sees happening in the next few years is the development of more secondary hubs around the region, such as Macau and Senai/Johor.

Ross has also written a cover story for FinanceAsia's April edition on the potential merger between Cathay Pacific, DragonAir and Air China. The magazine is out today. For copies please email [email protected].