AirAsia X culls Europe and India services

AirAsia X has announced a “realignment” of its network to focus on its core markets, a move which will see the carrier withdrawing services to India (Mumbai and Delhi) and Europe (Paris, London) from its Kuala Lumpur hub, which itself is under threat according to AirAsia’s Group CEO.

The four weekly services to Mumbai will be suspended with the last flight on 31 January; daily service to New Delhi ends on 22 March (with the service being reduced to four a week from the beginning of March). Flights to Paris will be suspended with the last flight on 30 March, with the London service following suit a day later.

AirAsia X says it will offer passengers who hold bookings after these dates an alternative travel option at no additional cost to mitigate the inconvenience caused as a result of these route withdrawals.

Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, commented, “AirAsia X remains focused on maintaining its global leadership position in the low-cost, long-haul segment. We intend to concentrate capacity in our core markets of Australasia, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea where we have built up stable, profitable routes within an infrastructure that supports low-cost services. We intend to open up new routes within these markets, as well as add frequencies on existing routes. Announcements of our future expansion plans will be made soon.

“The 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, have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low-cost flights between Asia and Europe, compromising our ability to offer the low fares AirAsia X is known for,” added Osman-Rani. “The implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in UK, which will rise yet again in April 2012 has forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe.

“As for Delhi and Mumbai, the continued visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges have resulted in a structure not conducive to the low-cost model. The airline is hopeful in reinstating services to India once these structural issues can be resolved,” Osman-Rani concluded.

Referring to the taxes and charges affecting flights to Europe, AirAsia X highlighted the “exorbitant government taxes such as the UK Air Passenger Duty which will be increased to £92 per departing economy passenger and £184 per departing Premium passenger from 1 April 2012. From 1 January 2012, the European Governments have also imposed an additional carbon tax under their Emissions Trading Scheme, which further adds to an already high cost”.

According to AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, commenting on Twitter, AirAsia X pulled out of India “due to high airport charges”. He also warned, “Malaysia heading that way if cost not brought under control.”

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