Wednesday, 25 January 2017
PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) is all set to ply routes to the United States, following the approval it just got from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
AAX, the long-haul, low-cost carrier, recently reinstated flights to Auckland and wants to get back to flying to London after a five-year hiatus.
For the US, the airline has been talking about flying to Honolulu in Hawaii the past year, but with the approval from the FAA it obtained recently, it can fly scheduled flights to any city in the US.
Other cities that could be on its radar include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and even New York. AAX will have to deploy long-range aircraft such as the B777 or A350 for these routes.
It was the first Asian low-cost carrier to secure approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to the US.
Group chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said this was a major milestone for AAX.
AAX CEO Benyamin Ismail said AAX would use the A330 aircraft with one stop in Kansai airport in Osaka for now.
AAX may launch Honolulu as early as late February to early March to catch the summer crowd, and is hoping to capture the Japanese crowd into Hawaii.
Talk is that it will begin flying in either June or July this year, about five months after launching ticket sales.
It is unclear what pricing AAX will offer for the Honolulu route.
Full-service carriers offer anything from RM3,800 to RM5,000 for a return flight to the US.
Flight time from KL to Kansai is about seven hours, and onward from there about 8.5 hours to Honolulu.
If AAX wants to fly beyond Hawaii, it needs to have longer-range aircraft, preferably the B777 or A350, but the latter is not available for now. AAX has ordered the A350 but delivery is only expected in 2019.
As far as London is concerned, the plan is to return to Gatwick – the United Kingdom’s second-largest airport – as it is said to have applied for 10 slots to fly into the airport in the last quarter of this year.
But those in the know said the airline was still reviewing its decision, as fares on that route offered by premium carriers were very low.
If AAX wants to ply that route, then it has to ensure the fares offered are lower. Further, making money on that route will remain a challenge, said a market player.
AAX pulled out of that route in 2012 due to stiff competition and the route was a losing concern.
Source by: Internet