AirAsia X eyes London flights by end of 2022

AirAsia X is continuing to rebuild its network after the COVID-19 downturn, planning to commence new long-haul flights to Istanbul, Dubai and London by the end of the year.

The low-cost carrier is rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic and currently is operating five Airbus A330 aircraft, from a fleet of 11 A330s, it said in a quarterly results statement on August 24, 2022. The airline is currently running scheduled flights to Seoul in South Korea and Delhi in India and intends to add services to Australia and Japan by the end of the year as well.

“In the coming months we will be reactivating more aircraft to return to popular medium haul leisure destinations in Australia, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia,” acting group CEO Tony Fernandes commented. “Soon, we will also be launching new short haul services to Bali for the first time and more exciting new longer haul destinations to Istanbul, Dubai and London, which will start operations by the end of the year.”

The budget carrier previously flew to London in 2009 but was forced to withdraw due to high fuel prices and weak demand.

AirAsia X said it hopes to have 15 A330 aircraft in operation by “the first half of calendar year 2023 to meet strong consumer demand.” However, that represents a slight delay from June 2022, when management said that the airline was currently using six of Its A330s and hoped to have 15 of the Airbus aircraft in operation by the end of 2022.

The airline hopes to return daily services to most destinations before 2023, and Fernandes said there were positive signs for China too, which has had some of the strictest COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Partnership with Capital A

Fernandes also said more details would be provided in due course of a planned partnership with Capital A Group, to help AirAsia X scale up operations. AirAsia X is one of the airlines that make up AirAsia Aviation Group Limited, the aviation arm of Capital A.

“We will be able to leverage on the capabilities within Capital A Group in terms of commercial requirements, cargo flight operations and technical maintenance requirements to name a few – all the while ensuring that AAX’s costs are at its leanest during this very crucial resumption period for the airline,” Fernandes said.

AirAsia X posted a loss before tax of RM652 million ($145 million) for the three months to June 30, 2022 but said it would have returned to profit were it not for the costs of issuing travel vouchers to passengers for flights that were canceled during the pandemic.

Benyamin Ismail, the CEO of AirAsia X Malaysia, said the airline was on a strong path to recovery, despite the high oil prices and travel restrictions in key markets such as China, Japan and Taiwan.

“After the worst two years in aviation history we are back, stronger than ever. We look forward to resuming services to everyone’s favorite medium haul destinations in coming months and to even longer haul new destinations which will provide our guests with greater value and choice to meet strong pent up demand,” Ismail said.

The company also said more details of a rehabilitation plan for AirAsia X Thailand would be announced in due course.

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