Home' Asian Aviation : AAV July August 2011 Contents The Malaysian Ministry of Transport has given
long-haul, low-cost carrier Air Asia X approval
to operate on five coveted, new routes. The
five are: daily frequencies to Beijing, Shanghai,
Jeddah and Osaka; and four-times weekly
services to Istanbul.
The airline's Chief Executive Officer Azran
Osman-Rani says the airline will now launch
services on two of the new routes within the
next 12 months, since it is constrained by
capacity and slot availability. The two will most
likely be Osaka and Jeddah, while Shanghai
and Beijing will be added some time later, due
to complex slot approval procedures followed
by the Civil Aviation Administration of China
According to a CAAC official in Beijing,
requests for new slots at Beijing Capital
International Airport will be put on hold for at
least the next two years, due to congestion at
the hub, while for Shanghai, budget carriers will
have to look at operating to the older Hongqiao
International Airport instead of the main airport,
"There are many requests for slots at Shanghai
Pudong Airport and priority will be given to full
service carriers," the official says.
AirAsia X currently operates a widebody fleet
of two, four-engined Airbus A340-300s and 11
Airbus A330-300 twinjets, with 17 more of the
latter on order. The carrier has also ordered ten
of Airbus's new A350 widebody twinjets and
three A330-200s, with two of the latter to be
delivered at the end of 2012 and a third in 2014.
Delivery of the A350s will commence in 2015.
In January, the airline deferred delivery of three
A330-300s to help bolster its balance sheet
ahead of a proposed initial public offering, which
has yet to be firmed up.
To date, AirAsia X has received approval to
fly to 37 destinations, although it currently only
serves 15 of them. The carrier stopped flying
to Abu Dhabi due to poor passenger loads.
Plans to introduce flights to Berlin, Cologne,
Moscow and Nice over the next two years,
using A330-200s, are now being evaluated. --
AirAsia X secures approval to operate five coveted routes
Thai Airways International has received board
approval to set up a new low-cost carrier
(LCC) to compete head-on with Thai AirAsia.
To be known as Thai Wings, the new airline
will start operations in the first quarter of
2012 and will be a new business unit of the
The decision comes after Thailand's Ministry
of Transport did not issue an air operating
certificate (AOC) for a proposed joint-venture
LCC between Singapore-based Tiger Airways
and Thai Airways.
When the plan for Thai Tiger was
conceived, the transport ministry said in
principle that it would issue the AOC, as Thai
Airways' majority shareholder -- the Ministry
of Finance, which holds a 73 percent stake
in the airline -- had sanctioned the deal. Thai
Airways had agreed to hold a 49.8 percent
stake in Thai Tiger, with 49 percent in the
hands of Tiger Airways and the remaining 1.2
percent held by a Thai businessman.
Thai Airways Chairman Ampon Kittiampon
says the decision to start Thai Wings is due
to the failure to secure the certificate for
Thai Tiger. "We need an LCC of our own to
compete in the market with other LCCs, as
we have lost out in the domestic and regional
markets substantially over the last two years,"
Thai Wings will initially operate on major
domestic and South-East Asian routes, before
expanding to the Indian and Chinese markets.
Ampon says Thai Airways has yet to decide
what aircraft type Thai Wings will operate.
The airline chief confirms that Thai Tiger is
effectively shelved, since the plan was to start
operations in March 2011.
According to a transport ministry official in
Bangkok, the government was opposed to a
foreign carrier such as Tiger penetrating the
country's domestic air travel market.
Tiger Airways also failed in a 2010
attempt to start a joint-venture LCC in South
Korea, in partnership with the Incheon City
municipality, following protests from the
country's budget airlines. -- William Dennis
Thai Airways wins board approval for new low-cost unit
NEWS IN BRIEF
CHINA SOUTHERN Airlines has begun operating
thrice-weekly flights from Urumqi to Tbilisi,
the capital of Georgia, using Boeing 737-800
aircraft. The route is the only air link between
China and Georgia, and is expected to promote
economic and cultural exchanges between the
two countries. Urumqi is the capital of China's
Xinjiang province. China Southern hopes to
gradually increase the frequency to a daily service
as trade volume grows.
AirAsia X has ordered ten of Airbus's
new A350 XWB widebody twinjets.
AsianAviation | JULY-AUGUST 2011 11
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