From Samantha Tan Chiew Ting
FARNBOROUGH (London), July 16 (Bernama) — AirAsia hopes to return to Europe and expand its presence in the region amid the order of 50 A330-900neo aircraft.
Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the A330neo would make it possible for the airline to re-enter London and also expand its presence to other European countries like Rome.
“I love to fly back to London and with A330neo it would make it more possible,” he told reporters after a signing ceremony with Airbus on the order of 50 A330neo, here Wednesday.
AirAsia, via AirAsia X, had previously flown to Paris and London, offering connections from its Australian routes, but it halted serving these routes in 2012.
Fernandes said the A330neo aircraft gives much better fuel economy and would make AirAsia X stronger, expand the routes via its Bangalore hub to Europe and Africa, as well as, connect Japan to South America.
He said AirAsia would accelerate growth in India by adding more planes to serve new routes as soon as discussion with the Indian government conclude.
Fernandes said AirAsia would focus on Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, South India for further growth and continue to start routes from new points like Penang-Chennai and Kota Baharu-Bandung.
As for AirAsia X, Fernandes said the growth focus would be on China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Middle East and India, while A330neo could connect more routes from its hubs to around the world.
Meanwhile, AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer Azran Osman-Rani said the the airline’s core strategy was to connect Southeast Asia and to become the largest airline flying from Malaysia to China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
He said AirAsia X hoped its investment in Indonesia would be able to take off by the end of this year and be fully operational next year.