“Definitely, it is going to happen and I am optimistic that it will happen in March,” said Datuk Tony Fernandes, AirAsia X director, founder and group CEO of South-East Asia’s largest budget carrier, AirAsia.
He said high fuel prices would not deter expansion plans.
The long-haul budget carrier had planned to launch flights to London in December but difficulties in securing a leased airplane forced it to postpone.
Fernandes said AirAsia X favoured Stansted, on the outskirts of London, but would finalise its plans in September when it meets officials from Stansted as well as Manchester airport, which is its other option.
He said the carrier would use a leased A340-300 to mount direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, which will act as a hub for other regional destinations in the AirAsia network.
Fernandes added there were plans to fly to South America and Africa.
AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani rejected pessimism among aviation analysts about the prospects for long-haul budget carriers.
“Our model proves that low-cost long-haul can work if you do it right. The faster we expand, the faster our costs drop and the faster we can be more aggressive on pricing,” he said.
AirAsia X has purchased 25 Airbus A330-300 aircraft and is expecting delivery of the first two in October and December this year.
AirAsia X is an affiliate of AirAsia and Virgin Group and was launched in January 2007
Source : Star
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