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AirAsia X (long haul service) takes off July
Published on: Saturday, January 06, 2007
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Kuala Lumpur: Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) Friday launched AirAsia X, the long-haul budget airline which is expected to begin operations from the KL International Airport (KLIA)'s low-cost terminal in July this year to three continents - Europe, Asia and Australia. AirAsia X will not be a member of any alliance.AirAsia X's network will cover destinations which are more than four hours in flight duration from Kuala Lumpur, offering daily point-to-point frequencies to popular destinations in China, India, Europe and Australia.

It also has the rights to service international routes via Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

AirAsia Bhd's chief executive officer, Datuk Tony Fernandes said AirAsia X would eventually fly to West Asia, South America and the United States.

FAX is 50 percent owned by Tony, while the other two shareholders are Kamarudin Meranun, deputy chief executive officer of AirAsia and Raja Mohd Azmi, CEO of FAX, who own 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. It has been operating rural air services in Sabah and Sarawak since August last year.

The full schedule of destinations and time is not out yet but booking facilities would be made available from end February via AirAsia website, he said.

In the first year of operations, AirAsia X targets half a million passengers.

Among the destinations announced today were major international cities Manchester, Milan, Berlin, Abu Dhabi, Amritsar, Tianjing and Hangzhou.

The airline will also have tie-ups with low-cost carrier partners in order to increase connectivity and route network.

However, no further details were revealed during a signing ceremony held here friday. FAX and AirAsia Bhd signed a 30-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which allows AirAsia to franchise its internationally recognised brand to FAX, the operator of AirAsia X.

AirAsia in return would be paid franchise fee for the deal, Raja Mohd Azmi said.

The event was witnessed by Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor. On AirAsia X, Tony said it was finalising its requirements and the aircraft being considered included Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus 330-300.

Using Boeing 777-300ER would enable AirAsia X to fly directly to Europe, but with the Airbus 330-300, it would have to make a stop in Middle East, he said.

He did not give further details on the aircraft except that the airline was open to all options available, whether leasing or acquiring.

AirAsia X would stick to the business model of tight cost control and offer low fares with one way flight to United Kingdom starting from RM9.99.

"Low fares attract volume," he said, adding that the average ticket price would be at least 50 percent cheaper than the current air ticket prices.

AirAsia X, he said would also look into ancillary income.

"Food and beverages will be served and there will also be in-flight entertainment but you probably have to pay for it," he said.

"While AirAsia and AirAsia X will be two separate legal entities and have separate management teams, I believe AirAsia X and AirAsia will have a symbiotic relationship. Both carriers will enhance the feed of passengers into each other's operations, and ensure passengers enjoy a seamless experience," said Tony.

More details of AirAsia X would be unveiled in six months time, he added. Meanwhile, Chan said that AirAsia X has been given the right to fly to destinations that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) was not flying into.

"In time to come, we will look into every application submitted to us by AirAsia X and MAS and we will deal with it specifically," he said. - Bernama



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