21 October 2022
AirAsia X is taking a conservative approach to restarting services, sticking to the medium-haul routes that have worked for it previously.
This week, the AirAsia X Group announced it was expanding services focusing on medium-haul markets where the demand is strongest, at least for now. It also said that all of its furloughed pilots and cabin crew would be able to rejoin flight operations by December.
Going back to familiar places
AirAsia X Group (AAX) covers Malaysia AirAsia X (IATA Code D7) and Thai AirAsia X (IATA Code XJ). AAX said it was increasing Malaysia AAX flights to 44 on ten routes and lifting its Thai AAX services to 22 weekly services across five routes in the next two months. Acting Group CEO of AAX, Tony Fernandes, said the airline is well and truly back, restarting with a focus on returning to its most popular and profitable medium-haul destinations.
“This strategy ensures that 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 our customers, while at the same time, maximizing our revenues to ensure a successful and viable airline for the future.”
AAX has recently relaunched direct services from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) to Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN), South Korea and Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in New Delhi. Following on with the theme of returning to familiar places, AAX has also announced resuming flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth in Australia, Auckland in New Zealand, Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND), and Sapporo New Chitose Airport (CTS) in Japan. From November 16th, it is also resuming services from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei, Taiwan and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Putting the band back together
Thai AAX has launched services from Bangkok to Osaka and Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), Seoul Incheon and is preparing to launch new direct routes to Melbourne, Sydney, and Sapporo in early December. Fernandes is especially pleased that he is honoring his commitment to rehire all the staff that were let go during the pandemic. AAX has already reactivated 175 pilots and 285 cabin crew, including rehiring 131 cabin crew retrenched during COVID-19. He said,
“I made a commitment, and it thrills me that we can honor that in two and a half years as we return to the skies stronger than ever. All of our AAX pilots who are still on furlough will return to the flight deck, together with the the retrenched cabin crew by December this year.”
According to ch-aviation.com, AirAsia X operates five of its twelve Airbus A330-300s, while Thai AirAsia X has four of its six A330-300s active, with two inactive alongside two A330-900neos. With eleven inactive A330s, AAX has plenty of capacity as it re-emerges in this controlled way. Looking outside Asia, Fernandes said that AAX remains focused on launching longer-haul destinations like London, Dubai and Istanbul.
Malaysia AAX CEO Benyamin Ismail said that forward bookings for the restarted routes “are looking strong” and that medium-haul travel is fast recovering. He added that the positive trends continue into the first quarter of 2023 with higher year-on-year load factors and higher average fares. AAX will also get a push along when the route from Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) opens.
What do you think of AirAsia X, and are you looking forward to its return?
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