“Strong demand” on London-Kuala Lumpur, says Air Asia

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


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  • I personally think Air Asia Malaysia terminal in KL was a disaster, it looks like fish market rather than airport! People don’t queue properly, they tend to cut it and act as if nothing happen and the staffs didn’t even care, Basically LCCT is the most terrible and unorganised terminal! and it was the worst experience that i had ever encountered in the airport!

  • With things being what they are at BA you might think it strange for me to bemoan the fact that BA withdrew the LHR- KL route some years ago meaning that to travel to Malaysia where my wife is from means a flight to Singapore and a change , or of course take one of the other direct flights on other airlines .
    We have always preferred travelling BA and could never understand why they withdrew their service as the flights we travelled on were always full .
    Now it seems that with KL still being a favoured destination BA are once more missing out on what could surely be a profitable sector .
    I realise that their fares may be a little more than some operaters and Air Asia is a good example but we never found BA’s fees to be less than competative and had no complaints about the service provided .

  • Hello Simon
    Even though the flights may have been “always full” it doesn’t mean that an airline is making money. The problem with Malaysia was in the value of its currency which meant the carriers weren’t making a profit on local ticket sales.

    During the last Asian economic downturn (when Asian currency rates were depressed) almost all European carriers suspended their KL flights. Today the only two European carriers serving Malaysia are KLM and Lufthansa. And rather than flying non-stop to Europe, the latter spreads its risks by operating to Frankfurt via Bangkok

    Matters might change in future but right now I guess most carriers find richer pickings by serving nearby Singapore whose currency is probably the strongest in the region.

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