AirAsia X to offer business class service at low prices

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New Delhi, Oct 8: AirAsia X, Malaysia's new long-haul budget carrier entrant, has announced its maiden voyage will take flight in November and reach Indian skies in the near future.

The carrier plans initially to fly five flights a week to Tianjin and Chengdu in China and four flights a week to Avalon, Gold Coast and Newcastle in Australia on its onward flights down under.

AirAsia X is the offshoot of AirAsia, southeast Asia's biggest and most successful budget airline. In addition to its economy class, AirAsia X is claiming it will offer a first premium economy class flights, which consists of 28 fixed-back shell sliding forward seats that are normally found only in business class on full service airlines.

A passenger who chooses to enjoy flying in a premium economy seat, similar to business class on a regular airline, will pay a little more than double the price of a normal seat, company officials say.

One way fare from Malaysia to Australia could be as cheap as 99 dollars. On average, AirAsia X fares will be 50 per cent lower than fares flying on full service carriers.

With the newly announced purchase of a 20 per cent stake by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the carrier has plans to fly non-stop daily flights to Stansted Airport in east London by fourth quarter of 2008. Air Asia X is reportedly talking with a European airline on the possibility of leasing two A340 in mid-2008 for its British service.

''We're planning to start services to other destinations including to India, South Korea, Japan and West Asia as and when the aircraft are available,'' said a senior official.

AirAsia X is currently raising funds to finance 15 A330-300 passenger jets valued at nearly three billion dollars at list price.

Deliveries are to begin from September 2008. It may order up to 20 Airbus A350 aircraft later as its route network expands.

Air Asia X founder Tony Fernandes has announced that the carrier will also be talking to Boeing about the possibility of the carrier adding 20 Boeing 787s for its medium-haul routes.

Other new low-cost services by foreign carriers in the region include Singapore's Tiger Airways and Australia's Jetstar Asia. The surge in low cost carriers has undoubtedly fuelled competition on routes traditionally monopolised by flag carriers like Air India and lowered air fares for everyday consumers.


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