Monday, 23 January 2012

AirAsia X Ditches India, Europe in Favour of Regional Markets

Longhaul low-cost carrier, AirAsia X will suspend services to India and Europe by the end of March in response to the combined impact from a weak global economy, rising jet fuel prices and soaring taxes, and instead, focus on developing its core markets.

The network realignment will see the suspension of AirAsia X’s four-weekly services to Mumbai after January 31, four-weekly services to Paris after March 30 and six-weekly services to London after March 31. The carrier's New Delhi’s daily links will be reduced to four-weekly in March, and will be suspended after March 22.

Despite enjoying healthy load factors of over 80 per cent on the carrier’s London and Paris services in 2011, CEO Azran Osman-Rani explained that the changes were necessitated by “continued high jet fuel prices and the weakening demand for air travel from Europe, brought about by the current economic situation together with exorbitant government taxes, (which) have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low cost flights between Asia and Europe”.

He added: “The implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in the UK, which will rise yet again in April, has forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe."

While flights to New Delhi and Mumbai were amended due to “continued visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges (a 280 per cent increase in airport fees will take effect in April)”, Azran said services could be reinstated “once these structural issues can be resolved”.

Passengers booked on these flights will be offered a full refund or an alternative travel option on another AirAsia X route or another carrier where available.

Meanwhile, the carrier would continue to hold firm in its core markets of Australasia, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, said Azran, who added that plans to launch new routes within these markets and additional frequencies were on the horizon.

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