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AirAsia X not to choose Dubai as alternative destination

The carrier will suspend Abu Dhabi route starting February 22. (AFP)

By Shweta Jain

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X has no plans to start services to Dubai or any other Middle Eastern destination, according to the airline's top executive.

The Malaysian carrier said yesterday it has decided to terminate its services to Abu Dhabi from its Kuala Lumpur hub, three months after the airline started operations to the UAE capital.

Asked if AirAsia X will consider Dubai or any other Middle Eastern destination as an alternative route, Azran Osman-Rani, Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia X, told Emirates Business: "We are not evaluating any other Middle East options and we are not considering Dubai."

He added: "Our pull-out is not related to Abu Dhabi airport or Abu Dhabi as a city. We are keen to return back to Abu Dhabi once we can resume with sufficient scale and better aircraft economics."

The carrier will suspend Abu Dhabi route starting February 22 with flights been reduced, on the grounds of low demand on the route, uneconomical aircraft coupled with the global crisis.

However, Osman-Rani calls the move temporary. "We will resume once we are able to have a more economical aircraft to service this route. We remain optimistic about the potential of Abu Dhabi, and we believe with the right aircraft, the economic upside can be very promising, especially if we can pair up Abu Dhabi with another on-route destination," he said.

Asked if the carrier had any specific date to resume Abu Dhabi services from, Osman-Rani said: "We don't have a specific time frame in mind yet."

He further said the recent news about Abu Dhabi launching its own budge carrier had no role to play in the carrier's decision to end Abu Dhabi services. "No, it was not a factor. In fact, we would have welcomed a budget carrier as it could have provided more regional connecting feeder to our service," he said.

When quizzed about the airline's plans to launch an Abu Dhabi listing, he said that: "We never had plans for an IPO/listing on Abu Dhabi stock exchange. This suspension does not affect any of AirAsia X's capital plans."

Meanwhile, passengers who have booked the AirAsia X flights post February 21, are already being notified, according to Osman-Rani. "AirAsia X will offer guests affected full refund or an option of credit shell to any of AirAsia X's destination. We will contact all customers individually according to flight date," he said.

Emirates increases KL frequency

Emirates has added an extra daily connection between Dubai and the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL), bringing the number of non-stop weekly flights to 21. The move comes as a result of the demand for flights to and from Malaysia, the airline said. "This rise in frequency follows increasing demand for flights not just from business travellers, but leisure travellers as well," said Richard Jewsbury, Emirates' Senior Vice-President, Commercial Operations, Far East and Australasia, said in a statement.


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