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.
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).