Low cost carrier Air Asia has reported significant growth on its London-Kuala Lumpur route, despite the uncertain future the service faced when launched a year ago this month.
One year on and the service, which flies under the airline’s long haul brand Air Asia X, appears to have gone from strength to strength, spurred on by the recession and the resulting tightening of purse strings, Air Asia said.
The airline, which attracted much attention by applying a budget airline model to a long haul route, said it had “consistently achieved higher than 80% load factor” and experienced “surging demand”.
Air Asia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani, was defiant of the criticism received in the service’s early days. He said: “Air Asia has once again proved those who said it couldn’t be done wrong. We have seen surging demand on the London to Kuala Lumpur route despite 2009 being one the toughest years for the aviation industry.
“Consumers are switching on to the fact that they can take the holiday of their dreams in exotic destinations across South East Asia and Australia for much less than ever before.”
At the time many baulked at the prospect of flying not just economy but low cost on a flight of around 12 hours. But the service is set to improve with the introduction of new, more spacious lie-flat seating in business class.
As previously reported on Business Traveller (see online news February 22), Air Asia X has already started refitting its eight-strong fleet of Airbus A330s and A340s which serve all medium and long haul routes.
Air Asia hailed the introduction of lie-flat seats on a budget flight as a “world first”, but it wont be fully available until June.
Another impressive figure given by Air Asia with regards to the London-KL route is the 221,000 passengers served in 12 months. And the service is set to increase in frequency, going from seven times to nine times weekly as part of the 2010 summer schedule.
For a closer look at Air Asia and the reasons behind its new seating, see ‘Exclusive: New Air AsiaX seating for London-KL route’.
Report by Andrew Gough