AirAsia X to start Australia flights in November

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SYDNEY, Sept 28 (Reuters) AirAsia X, a Malaysian budget long-haul carrier, said on Friday it will launch its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Australia's Gold Coast in Queensland state on Nov. 2.

The carrier initially planned four return flights to Australia a week, and would add China as a second destination in mid-December, said AirAsia X Chief Executive Azran Osman-Rani.

''As we get more planes, hopefully in the second half of next year, we will start our second Australian destination,'' Osman-Rani told Reuters, adding that it would most likely be in the southern state of Victoria.

Osman-Rani said the carrier would later consider flights from Malaysia to Britain, either direct or via the Middle East.

Malaysia's AirAsia owns a 20 percent stake in AirAsia X, which has ordered 25 Airbus A350 planes.

Britain's Virgin Group [VA.UL], led by billionaire Richard Branson, also has 20 percent.

AirAsia X, which aims to fly 10 million passengers a year within five years, expects to list its shares on the Malaysian stock exchange by 2010.

REUTERS PBB HS1548

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