Air Asia X is to abandon its route from Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur from March, just six months after switching its flights from Stansted, as predicted by Business Traveller (see online news December 2011).
The no-frills carrier started flights from Stansted to the Malaysian capital in 2009 but moved them to Gatwick in October 2011. But the airline, which is currently running six weekly flights, will stop flying on the route from March 31.
The airline has been offering a two-cabin service from Gatwick with both economy and premium including a flat-bed product.
Air Asia X is also withdrawing flights to Kuala Lumpur from Paris as well as the Indian cities of Mumbai and New Delhi. The carrier said it wanted to concentrate on markets in the Far East and Australasia where it could “build a leadership position”.
Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, said “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.
"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.”
Osman-Rani added that the implementation of the emission trading scheme (ETS) and the rise of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the UK from April were key reasons in the decision to withdraw its European services.
A Gatwick spokeswoman said: "We are very disappointed to be losing AirAsia X, which has been operating a direct route from Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur since October last year.
“AirAsia X has made the reasons behind its decision clear. The continued high fuel prices in 2011, weakening economic conditions in Europe and the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) alongside the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) carbon tax in the UK has resulted in the withdrawal of operations at Gatwick on 31 March 2012.”
The airline's Paris services will end on March 30, while the last Mumbai and New Delhi flights will be on January 31 and March 22 respectively. Alternative travel arrangements will be made by the airline at no additional cost for any customers holding a booking beyond these dates.
For more information visit airasia.com.
Report by Rob Gill