AirAsia X Prioritizes Medium-Haul Recovery

Credit: Tengku Bahar / AFP / Getty Images

AirAsia X plans to ramp up the recovery of its medium-haul network, although it is yet to set dates for its planned expansion into long-haul routes.

The airline said its immediate focus will be on deploying its Airbus A330s on medium-haul services, as demand is strongest in this market sector. AirAsia X has reiterated its desire to launch true long-haul routes—including to London—as the next phase of its post-pandemic growth.

AirAsia X will have 44 weekly flights on 10 international routes by early December, and affiliate Thai AirAsia X will have 22 weekly flights on five routes.

Group CEO Tony Fernandes noted that the carrier is first returning to its “historically proven” medium-haul routes. It will build frequencies in these core markets to optimal levels, to keep costs down and revenues up.

Fernandes said AirAsia X still wants to introduce longer-range routes to London, Dubai and Istanbul. Dates for these will be announced in the near future, he said. The carrier had previously said it intended to launch them in 2022.

The airline signaled that the Istanbul route will be the first of these to debut. The London route will eventually be operated with a Dubai stopover.

AirAsia X is currently operating four of its 12 A330s, and it plans to boost this fleet to as many as 13 by the first quarter of 2023 to support its added flights. In addition to returning parked A330s to service, the airline will lease more aircraft. AirAsia X has previously said it plans to reach a fleet total of 15 by the end of the first half of 2023.

The carrier said it will recall all of its furloughed pilots by the end of this year, and it will also seek to hire back all of the cabin crew who were cut due to the pandemic.

The Malaysia-based AirAsia X parent carrier is operating 12.9% of its weekly seat capacity versus 2019 levels, according to data from CAPA and OAG. This is up from just 3.3% in the week of Aug. 22.

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.