AirAsia X to focus on medium-haul operations

AirAsia X AirAsia X Group (AAX) has announced that the airline will continue to focus on  medium-haul markets in the short term, where proven demand is strongest. The AAX Group announced it is increasing its Malaysia AirAsia X (D7) flights to 44 weekly across 10 routes, and is expanding its Thai AirAsia X (XJ) operations to fly 22 weekly services across five routes in the next two months.

Recently, AAX launched direct services from Kuala Lumpur to South Korea (Seoul-Incheon) and India (New Delhi) and announced the resumption of services to Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth), New Zealand (Auckland), Japan (Tokyo-Haneda and Sapporo-Chitose), with latest confirmed new routes to Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) and Taipei starting November. Thai AirAsia X has launched services from Bangkok to Japan (Osaka and Tokyo-Narita), South Korea (Seoul-Incheon), and is preparing to launch new direct routes to Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) and Japan (Sapporo-Chitose) from early December.

The airline said it also remains committed to recalling all furloughed pilots and cabin crew, adding all furloughed pilots and retrenched cabin crew will have the opportunity to be back in the sky by December this year. Since the pandemic, AAX has already reactivated 175 pilots and 285 cabin crew including rehiring 131 cabin crew who were retrenched during the pandemic.

Tony Fernandes. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Acting Group CEO of AAX Tony Fernandes said: “AAX is well and truly back with a focus  on returning to our most popular and profitable medium haul destinations first in the short term, which are historically proven. This strategy ensures that the AAX Group can operate at an optimal frequency on our core routes in order to keep our costs down and deliver the best fares in the market for consumers, while at the same time, maximising our revenues to ensure a successful and viable airline for the future. However, the most important thing for me is that we can confirm today that we are bringing back our staff whom we had to let go during Covid. I had made a commitment and it thrills me that we can honour that in two and a half years, as we return to the skies, stronger than ever. Many pilots and cabin crew are already back in service, but as we continue to grow in line with huge pent up demand, all of our AAX pilots who are still on furlough will return to the flight deck, together with the retrenched cabin crew by December this year. In fact, we are now retraining the third batch of rehired cabin crew ahead of strong forecast demand for medium haul air travel. While medium haul is our first priority, we still remain focused on launching certain longer haul destinations like London, Dubai and Istanbul, which we will announce in the near future.”

CEO of Malaysia AAX Benyamin Ismail said: “Finally, the world borders are reopening and we are ready to fly high once again. Currently, we are operating with four widebody A330 aircraft and as we continue to grow we expect to be operating up to 13 aircraft by the first quarter of 2023 to meet strong and growing demand for the best value, medium haul flights. Commencing December, we will not only be adding more destinations but also increasing our flight frequencies on popular routes such as moving to daily services between Kuala Lumpur and Seoul (Incheon) to fly a total of 53 flights weekly. This signals that medium-haul air travel is fast recovering and we intend to leverage this opportunity to drive sustainable growth for AAX which will provide consumers with greater value and choice. We are already seeing strong forward bookings for the routes we have restarted post-pandemic and we will be resuming more services in our core markets such as Auckland, Melbourne, Perth, Jeddah, Taipei, Tokyo (Haneda) and Sapporo in the next two months to cater for the growing travel demand. Our forward-booking trends remain very encouraging across all key metrics, with higher year-on-year load factors and average fares through the first quarter of 2023.”

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