AirAsia X targets Japan and Middle East expansion

BUDGET longhaul carrier AirAsia X is awaiting landing rights in Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya, and has also set its sights on obtaining landing permissions in Istanbul, Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, told media during the launch of its year-long To Japan With Love campaign (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 11) that Japan remains a huge market despite the March 11 disaster.

“The potential between Japan and South-east Asian destinations is massive,” said Fernandes. “Once we have the green light for increased landing rights, AirAsia X has the potential to transform the business, cultural and economic connectivity between Japan and South-east Asia.”

“We’re expecting AirAsia Philippines to be flying more into Japan, and will announce routes in September,” he added.

AirAsia X currently operates thrice-weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

The carrier is also keen on obtaining landing rights in Istanbul, Dubai or Abu Dhabi to establish new routes to the Middle East. In 2009, AirAsia X was flying into Abu Dhabi, but the airline halted operations there last year.

“The Middle East is a huge market, and the UAE is a prime focus,” said Fernandes.

“Besides leisure and business travelers, AirAsia X’s budget flights would benefit the thousands of foreign workers in the region from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, who would have another airline option to fly home.”

By Ellen Chen

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