Budget airline AirAsia X is eyeing major European hubs as part of long-haul expansion plans to begin in five years' time.
From 2015, AirAsia X, the long-haul operation of Malaysian airline group Air Asia, will start to receive an order of 15 next generation A350s, almost tripling its current long-haul fleet of eight. AirAsia advisor Tim Claydon said that its long-haul operations were limited only by the number of A330s and A340s it had.
London Stansted to Kuala Lumpur, which launched last year, is set to go from a daily service to nine-times weekly with double flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays in time for the summer schedule. But Claydon said this was all AirAsiaX could "squeeze out" of the two A340s serving the London-KL route, despite the fact slots at Stansted were "not a problem".
When asked which airports AirAsiaX was considering for new long-haul routes, Claydon did not rule out Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport or Amsterdam Schiphol.
Claydon also suggested Frankfurt and possibly Munich were on the cards, and hinted at destinations further afield including airports on the US West Coast.
AirAsia X yesterday unveiled its new long-haul premium flat-bed product, now available on the London-KL route (which was first reported by Business Traveller last February, see news). The airline introduced this lie-flat Premium Seat on its midnight flight between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne earlier this year (see tried and tested).
Nick Barton, Stansted Airport's commercial and development director, said AirAsia X's budget service was an important part of its plans of becoming a player in the long-haul market.
But he said it wasn't the airport's intention to compete with the legacy carriers, but instead seek out airlines "with a different long-haul model".
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