AirAsia X returns with new long-haul destinations as travel demand picks up
AirAsia X hopes to shake up the long-haul, low-cost market as it returns to the skies with its popular routes, and three new destinations.
In a press event held June 15, 2022, AirAsia X revealed that it will fly to three new destinations: Dubai, Istanbul, and London.
Dubai and Istanbul are new destinations that AirAsia X will fly to on a direct route, and the budget airline is making a return to London, which it will fly to via Istanbul.
AirAsia X first flew to London in March 2009, but in 2012, the airline withdrew its operations due to fuel prices and weak travel demand. The announcement comes on the same day that European start-up Norse Atlantic Airways operated its first low-cost long-haul flight, between Norway and the United States.
Tickets to the airline’s new destinations are available to book by the end of June 2022.
AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail said in the press event that during the “downtime” of the last couple of years brought by the pandemic, the company reviewed how AirAsia X can bring better value.
“We are back, better and stronger than ever. We have spent the downtime in flying reviewing every aspect of the operation to deliver even greater value and choice for medium and long haul travel,” Ismail said.
“Now that international borders are reopening across the world, we are able to resume operations to our most popular destinations including Australia, Japan, Hawaii, India, South Korea,” Ismail added.
Ismail also told press that the airline is currently using 6 of its A330s and hopes to have 15 of the Airbus aircraft in operation by the end of 2022.
Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, executive chairman of Capital A and founder of AirAsia X, noted that pre-pandemic, AirAsia X’s vision was “world domination” through numerous destinations, whereas two years after, the company is taking care to review and study each destination to ensure there is enough demand and value in every city.
AirAsia X remains hopeful that travel demand in the region will steadily increase. Capital A president of commercial operations Colin Currie said in the press event that while the Southeast Asian region may be 3-6 months behind Europe in terms of travel surge, the company foresees A “V-shaped comeback” in travel.
When asked how the airline will face rising fuel costs, Ismail said that AirAsia X fares will include a fuel surcharge, which he expects will only be temporary. On that note, Ismail mentioned that fares will be slightly higher compared to pre-pandemic rates, as is the case with many other airlines.
In May 2022, AirAsia was inundated by waves of complaints and even protests at its head office in Kuala Lumpur over unrefunded tickets from canceled flights due to the pandemic. On top of the arduous refund procedure, the main complaint is that AirAsia is providing travel credit vouchers, rather than cash refunds.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Ismail said that 80% of refunds have been processed. He also said that due to the airline being in a court-sanctioned debt restructuring process for the last two years, it is not allowed to refund cash to its customers.
Executive chairman Meranun said that on top of the travel credit vouchers, which are good for five years, passengers will also be given 10% of their credit and booking value.
AirAsia unveiled its new corporate identity, Capital A, in January 2022, and announced its plans to diversify in February 2022. The company developed The Asean Super App platform where users can do all transactions under the Capital A group, which includes banking, food delivery, and flight tickets.
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