KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Today marked a new start for AirAsia X (AAX) as the long-haul low-cost carrier announced that it will be flying from Kuala Lumpur to London, Dubai and Istanbul this year.
The grand launch announcement took place this morning at Slate @The Row on Jalan Doraisamy where the carrier's stakeholders also celebrated the launch of four more new routes to Japan and Hawaii, which are all on sale starting today.
With today’s announcement, AAX is now offering flights across seven popular routes from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, Sydney, Seoul (Incheon), Tokyo (Haneda), Sapporo (Chitose), Osaka (Kansai), and from Osaka (Kansai) to Honolulu.
Executive chairman of Capital A and founder of AAX Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said this marks an incredibly exciting day as AAX returns to the skies refreshed and rejuvenated.
“The resumption of four popular medium haul routes and announcement of three new long-haul services today is a significant milestone following the most challenging time in aviation history.
“Istanbul is my favourite destination and I can’t wait to share the many highlights with everyone. We are sure all of these destinations will prove popular and look forward to seeing everyone back on board AAX again soon," he said.
AAX chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail, who was also present at the grand launch, said his team is optimistic that with the further resumption of the operations to their most popular destinations including Australia, Japan, Hawaii, India, and South Korea, more destinations will be announced soon to meet strong demand.
"We are back, better and stronger than ever. We have spent the downtime in flying reviewing every aspect of the operation to deliver even greater value and choice for medium and long-haul travel. Today’s announcement of the resumption is just the beginning.
"The return to London and first time flights direct to Dubai and Istanbul will be a game-changer, we will continue to bring our fleet of aircraft out of hibernation and, we can look forward to gradually bringing our valued pilots and cabin crew who were on furlough back," he added.
While staying optimistic that the services will prove to be very popular and that AAX will return to pre-pandemic capacity in the next 12 months, Benyamin also took some questions from reporters to further clarify why the company offered travel voucher credit as refunds instead of cash as demanded by customers.
"AAX can't give cash refunds under the law. We can only give voucher credit and with our goodwill we are giving one on one to what customer paid. Hence travel vouchers are the only way and 10 per cent value for cost of them 'waiting' will be given to those affected for future ticket purchases."
Further clarifying the situation, Kamarudin also said, "By law, the court can’t differentiate asset and liability. We can't refund cash by law. We went to court and said out of goodwill we would compensate with vouchers... plus 10 per cent to cover their waiting period."
AAX said to date, 80 per cent of customers affected by travels during pandemic times have been refunded with credit vouchers while 20 per cent more is targeted to be settled by end of the month.
On a separate matter, Kamarudin also said that all shareholders including the minority will benefit from this new relaunch in a long run as they mark the new beginning of AAX.
"No doubt investment reduced but in the long run they will benefit. Today every route is researched and will make money for shareholder.... as u see the progression will be reflected soon.
"We are all shareholders. The most challenging for the aviation industry were purely international flights. International flight only opened in April compared to Capital A. We were totally non-existent during the start of the pandemic.
"We never got funded by any entity or the government. We had to survive our own in the past two years," he said.
Currently, AirAsia has six Airbus 320s in the air, with four more incoming. AAX is looking to make it 15, adding four more aircraft.
Benyamin also added at the event that the ticket pricing compared to pre pandemic times is slightly higher but AirAsia X made it still affordable
"The fuel environmental went up, as soon it comes down we will decrease our prices too," he said adding AAX is still finding other ways to reduce cost to make fares more affordable.
Capital A president (Commercial) Colin Currie, who was also present, said this refreshed branding signals a fresh new start.
“Capital A will support AAX moving forward, as a conduit to leverage synergies within our broad ecosystem of travel and lifestyle products. We will use our full resources including the AirAsia Super App, our cargo business Teleport, fintech arm BigPay and all of the other airlines in the AirAsia Aviation Group to take AAX to new heights," he said.