AirAsia X could be returning to London in 2018. According to AAX Chief Executive Officer Ben Ismail, the long-haul, low-budget carrier is awaiting delivery of the first Airbus A330-900 neo planes to start flying what he called a “very sexy” route.
He also said AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes “has done very well in the past trying to find routes that are very sexy where everyone dreams to go”, referring to the success London and Paris had as destinations until the high cost of operations forced AirAsia to turn away from them.
However, Ismail now believes that with the new A330-900 neo jetliners, the carrier will be able to make money.
Of course, AirAsia X still needs to secure a good airport deal in order to start its London operation on a high note.
For us, it’s all about the airport deal. If we can find a very attractive airport deal with good takeoff and landing slots, we’ll go for that. We’re confident we can stimulate any airport that we go into so (in London) it may be Stansted, it may be Gatwick or, if I’m the luckiest person in the world, Heathrow would be great.
Ismail also said AirAsia X is considering other European destinations, particularly Rome and Frankfurt for the long-term.
Not Shutting Down Indonesia AirAsia, Says Ismail
AirAsia X CEO also added that the group will not shut down Indonesia AirAsia, despite the issues it is facing right now. Right now, IAA is facing regulatory problems with the local government after one of its Airbus A320 planes crashed in December 2014, with 162 people on board. All 162 passengers and crew members have been killed in the crash.
Ismail said the following about this:
We’re trying to look at the business entirely – how it’s going to fit into the whole vision. We’re reviewing it with regulators there to see how we can move forward. It’s still going to exist but whether it’s going to fall within one company or two, we don’t know yet.
Indonesia AirAsia had to cancel its Melbourne and Sydney flights to Bali due to heavy losses on them. The carrier was flying four times per week on them, using A330s.
Indonesia AirAsia X currently operates just one route, from Jakarta to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.