AirAsia X searches for European feeder partner

AirAsia X is looking at potential partners to feed its European routes when it resumes operations to the continent in 2018, following the arrival of its first of the 66 A330-900neos it has on order from Airbus. 

A render of an AirAsia X A330neo. Copyright: Airbus

Speaking to Routesonline, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Benyamin Ismail said both easyJet and Ryanair are considered as possible options as they are closest to the carrier’s model.

“We are looking at the whole Europe opportunity and how it fits into our network jigsaw. We have succeeded in growing across ASEAN by establishing a presence in many markets, but this is not feasible in parts of Europe where major rivals are already well established. Once we fly back to London, we will look to find a partner that day as setting up an AirAsia in UK would be difficult”, Ismail said.

Earlier this year, Norwegian founder and CEO Bjørn Kjos said AirAsia would be a “perfect match” for his airline, adding that the two budget carriers could complement each other’s operations with Norwegian’s European traffic feeding into AirAsia’s Asian operations and vice-versa.

AirAsia X’s CEO denied that the carrier will commence services to Europe during the fourth quarter of this year after an announcement was made on its website last month that it would operate a daily Kuala Lumpur Int’l-Barcelona El Prat via Istanbul Atatürk return service using A330-300 equipment. Ismail explained that the information was released to test how future route announcements are made.

The AirAsia subsidiary ended flights to Europe back in 2012 citing high fuel prices, “exorbitant” taxes, and weak travel demand. Back then, it used its now retired fleet of A340-300s to serve Paris Orly as well as London Stansted/London Gatwick (at different times).


Dubai Airports to add 10 A380 gates at DXB

Dubai Airports has commissioned work on a project that will add ten more A380 contact stands at Dubai International’s (DXB) Concourse C. This expansion will enable the facility to accommodate Emirates’ growing fleet of A380s.

Dubai International’s concourse C. Copyright: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt on wikimedia
The project will increase the number of Code F gates (A380 gates) at Concourse C from three to 13, bringing the total number of A380 gates at DXB to 47, more than any other airport in the world. Emirates operates 83 A380s, with a further 57 on firm order.

Concourse C became a part of the Terminal 3 complex used exclusively by Emirates and its partner Qantas, following the opening of the $ 1.2 billion Concourse D in February, increasing capacity at the airport from 75 million to 90 million passengers a year.

The upgrade project commenced in Q3 this year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. It is part of Dubai’s Airports’ DXB Plus program, which aims to increase DXB’s capacity to 118 million passengers per year by 2023 without building any additional major infrastructure.

Dubai Airports said:

“DXB Plus will boost throughput and enhance service through the design and implementation of customer-centric processes and the application of smart technology.”

Concourse C’s current interior. Copyright: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt on wikimedia
Concourse C will also undergo interior refurbishment as part of the upgrade project, including re-design and enhancement of gate hold rooms, increased dedicated airline lounge space, and ambiance enhancements.

“Considering the traffic growth at DXB and the central role the airport will continue to play for the aviation sector as well as Dubai’s economy over the next 10 years, it is vital that we provide additional capacity while enhancing our customer service,” Dubai Airports SVP of development Bryan Thompson said.

JetBlue studies wide bodies for long haul flights

JetBlue Airways is studying the possibility of acquiring widebody aircraft, which would be operated alongside the A321neo(LR), to start long haul flights.

A jetBlue A321. Copyright: Eric Salard on wikimedia
David Clark, jetBlue’s Vice President (Network Planning), told Skift in an interview: “We are very open to seeing all the options that are out there. We are certainly looking at widebodies. It’s less that we are looking at every widebody right now and more sort of evaluating widebodies in general versus the A321LR. We want to see which might be a better fit for us.”

Last year, jetBlue’s Executive Vice President (Commercial & Planning), Marty St. George, said the LCC was looking at expanding into previously untapped Latin American as well transatlantic markets such as Brazil and Western Europe.

Its European rivals Norwegian and even SAS Scandinavian Airlines have both expressed interest about the A321neo(LR) to develop long haul flights between small cities on either side of the Atlantic.

Russia considers selling Rossiya

The Russian Transport Ministry has been instructed to submit proposals for the potential sale of Aeroflot’s subsidiary Rossiya, the Vedomosti business daily reports.

A Rossiya 747-400 in the new livery. Copyright: Dmitry Terekhov on wikimedia
Although no official reason has been given for the move, it is believed that there are concerns being raised over Aeroflot Group’s dominance on the Russian market and Rossiya’s financial performance.

Aeroflot assumed full control of Rossiya on March 30, 2014 having acquired the carrier from Russian state tech-industrial corporation, Rostec, in 2011. It has since positioned the airline as a mid-tier consolidated entity to cover the domestic and regional leisure market, increasingly shifting its operations from St. Petersburg to Moscow Vnukovo.

Deputy economic minister Yevgeni Yelin told Vedomosti, “We should develop air connections not only from Moscow but from St. Petersburg as well. We back privatisation and competition”.

Earlier this year the Aeroflot Group merged its Donavia, Rossiya and Orenair subsidiaries into one encompassing airline under the Rossiya brand as part of a drive aimed at adapting its multi-brand strategy to new market conditions.

However, government sources have said that Aeroflot has failed to turn Rossiya’s finances around as the airline is still making losses and has been unsuccessful in overtaking rival S7 Airlines, as the second busiest carrier in Russia in terms of passenger numbers so far this year.

Hainan Airlines launches new route to Sydney 

Hainan Airlines recently launched flights between Changsha, China and Sydney, Australia. They already serve Australia’s largest city with flights to Xi’an.

A Hainan Airlines A330. Copyright: Sergey Kustov on

The new flights will be operated two times a week using their 250-seat Airbus A330-200s.

There are currently no other flights between the city pair.

“We’re thrilled to welcome another service from Hainan Airlines to Sydney Airport, the world’s leading long-haul airport for Chinese airlines. This new route will significantly boost tourism and trade to Sydney and NSW, bringing an additional 16,600 Chinese visitors and an anticipated $62 million in additional visitor expenditure per year. We’re looking forward to welcoming these new Chinese visitors to Sydney.” Hou Wei, VP Marketing at Hainan Airlines, said: “We are very happy to connect Changsha and Sydney together for the first time. Hainan Airlines has identified Australia as a strategic choice in advancing our growth and development as a global aviation player, and Sydney is Australia’s largest city, economic and tourism hub. We hope that Hainan Airlines will become the choice of an increasing number of travellers around the world, so we are able to contribute more to the promotion of economic and cultural exchanges between China and Australia.”

Hawaiian Airlines is considering flights to Europe with A330neos

Hawaiian Airlines is studying the possibility of introducing nonstop flights to Europe with some of the six A330-800neo aircraft it has on order.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Dunkerley said that while the carrier is interested in potential flights from Honolulu to London, it is yet to look into whether the aircraft could provide the required range to operate the service.
Hawaiian Airlines utilises its twenty-three A330-200s and seven B767-300(ER)s on longhaul routes to Asia, Australia, New Zealand and across the US. The first deliveries of the A330-800neos are not expected until 2019.

Next year the carrier will receive its first of sixteen ordered A321neos, which will be utilised on routes to the US West Coast in order to free up the A330-200s for flights to Asia. Dunkerley says that while the airline has made some inquiries into the A380-800, they were mainly for informational purposes.

The US carrier is currently looking into adding about half a dozen new routes, Dunkerley told Bloomberg. They include points on the US East Coast, as well as Canada. In Asia, the carrier sees potential for additional flights to China and more services could be added to Australia.