Malaysian success story AirAsia is aiming to start flying to the USA by next year. The company’s AirAsia X unit plans to begin flying to Hawaii in the first half of 2017, as announced by a spokesperson.
The KL-based airline, similar to European operators easyJet and Ryanair, has been a hit with customers recently, because of its business model that offers lower base ticket prices while charging for add-ons such as food. AirAsia is based in the Asia market but carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA have showed that the concept can work on trans-Atlantic routes.
Originally, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his team had targeted an earlier start date to link Kuala Lumpur with Honolulu, Hawaii via Osaka, Japan, but had to push back the start date as it awaits approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
In addition, AirAsia is aiming to launch its new Airbus A330neo craft to Europe after delivery starts in 2018. The A330neo is still in development by Airbus so AirAsia X may look into signing “other aircraft to commence Europe routes earlier.” The options include renting a Boeing Co. 777 long-haul but no decision has been made yet.
AirAsia X used to offer routes between KL and London and Paris but abandoned the service in 2012 because of high fuel prices. At the time, it operated gas-guzzling four-engine Airbus A340 long-haul planes, which now have been replaced by new generation high-efficiency counterparts.