Sunday, February 03, 2008

Higher leasing cost delays AirAsia X’s flight to London

Higher leasing cost is holding up AirAsia X’s plan to launch its maiden flight to London, said its chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani.

“The delay in the delivery of the Boeing 787 has led to an increase in the cost of leasing the Airbus A340, which is the aircraft we wanted to use on the London route.

“Hence, demand has surpassed the supply,” he said on the sideline of AirAsia Bhd’s maiden flight to here yesterday.

In September last year, Azran said AirAsia X had already secured the landing rights for Standsted airport, its London destination. It plans to fly on a daily basis using the A340, which can fly the route non-stop.

AirAsia X’s sales and bookings for the route were supposed to begin in February.

Meanwhile, plans to fly to China, Amritsar in India and Melbourne in Australia using the Airbus A330 aircraft were going on smoothly, he said.

“Two of the three destinations will take off this year,” said Azran, adding that the slower global economic growth would not dampen AirAsia X’s growth.

On the positive side, it might actually help AirAsia X because lower demand due to slower economic growth would eventually bring down leasing costs, he said.

AirAsia Bhd’s group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes echoed Azran saying: “Travelling has become part of the social need now. History shows that low-cost carriers can actually benefit from recession as people will be willing to trade down extra facilities to travel.”

“I am predicting a very bad recession. It is here. There are too many bubbles in the US economy,” he added.

Fernandes also said that AirAsia X had new shareholders from the Middle East and North Asia. They will be announced in two weeks.

Source : STAR
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