AirAsia X to Launch New Middle East Hub

KUALA LUMPUR — Long-haul budget airline AirAsia X said Wednesday it would launch a new hub in the Middle East, enabling its network to extend to north Africa and Europe.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 31 Jul 2009, 12:56 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:33 PM

AirAsia X’s chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said a location had already been chosen in a Gulf state but that it would not be disclosed for several weeks. “This will open up completely new markets, and we won’t always have to have the planes based in Kuala Lumpur, which limits us to an eight-hour radius,” Azran told reporters.

“There will be many in the aviation industry who think this is crazy because the traditional low-cost model is to do only point-to-point flights... to keep it simple,” he said.

Azran said however that while there would be “some additional cost”, AirAsia X would not need to create new infrastructure and would instead hire existing services for cargo, catering and maintenance. Initially, the carrier will operate flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Middle East hub, before branching out next year by using it to jump to destinations that could include Morocco, Turkey, Spain or the Czech Republic.

Azran said the plan was also triggered by potential problems accommodating new aircraft, amid doubts that Malaysia’s airports authority will complete a new low-cost carrier terminal in Kuala Lumpur by 2011 as scheduled.

“It will relieve the pressure of having all our planes in Kuala Lumpur, especially if the new airport is not finished and we do not have enough parking bays,” he said.

AirAsia X currently flies to seven destinations, with two more planned by the end of 2009. It operates five planes, a combination of Airbus A330s and A340s, with three more medium-range A330s due for delivery this year, three in 2010 and six in 2011. Azran said this week that AirAsia X has been denied permission by the Malaysian government to fly into Sydney and Seoul, due to a row over its sister carrier AirAsia.

But he said Wednesday that it would instead boost flight frequency to the Gold Coast in Australia, Hanzhou in China, and the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

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