Virgin Atlantic is expected to sell its 10% stake in AirAsia X to existing shareholders for more than $21 million, a report claimed yesterday.

The move comes as Malaysia-based AirAsia X, one of the world’s few long-haul budget carriers, prepares for listing at the end of the year.

“The stake (belonging to Virgin) will be taken up by Aero Ventures and AirAsia on a pro-rata basis,” said Malaysian financial newspaper The Edge said.

AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani told the AFP news agency that he was not aware of plans for Virgin to exit the firm.

He said: “We can’t say anything. We are not privy to any of the discussions.”

The Edge said that after the share sale, several individuals – including the group CEO of regional carrier AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, with business partner Kamarudin Meranum – will collectively hold 60% of AirAsia X.

The balance of 40% will be held by AirAsia, Japan’s Orix and Bahrain-based Manara Consortium.

Virgin’s involvement with AirAsia X when it was launched in 2007 helped boost confidence in the airline at a time when the future did not look bright for long-haul budget carriers.