AirAsia X looks up as Gold Coast-Auckland takes off

AirAsia X looks up as Gold Coast-Auckland takes off

AirAsia X continues to nurse its Australian network back to health, with its new service between the Gold Coast and Auckland part of its plan to enhance local operations after capacity cuts last year.

The Kuala Lumpur-based low cost carrier launched the new route on March 22, following a commitment to expand capacity on its Australia routes after it returned to profit in the last three months of 2015 ending eight quarters of losses. Unfavourable conditions had seen it slash Australian capacity in line with demand in early 2015, with the carrier calling time on its short-lived Adelaide service. However local market conditions have since improved, with the airline confident it will be profitable in 2016.

Chief executive Benyamin Ismail told Travel Weekly the response to the new route had been “very pleasing”, particularly from the airline’s Asian passengers for whom New Zealand is a “very much desired destination”.

“Feedback from passengers on our network has indicated for some time that they’d like to be able to travel through to New Zealand and Auckland is an obvious stopping off point as New Zealand’s largest city,” he said.

Ismail also highlighted the benefits for New Zealanders who will now have access to more flight options to the Gold Coast as well as the airline’s Asian network through its Kuala Lumpur hub.

“Australia has always been a key market for us,” he explained. “This new route from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland via Gold Coast signified our commitment to developing flight connectivity in the region and our continuous effort to expand our operations.”

Although the airline is “always looking at opportunities”, Ismail confirmed that there are no immediate plans for AirAsia X’s expansion to new cities in Australia, although he underlined Australia’s importance as a market.

“We have a strong presence in Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast and Perth,” he said. “Our affiliate Indonesia AirAsia X has also successfully introduced Bali to Sydney and Bali to Melbourne services.”

Revenue per available seat kilometer (RASK) improved by 20% year-on-year for Australia in the fourth quarter of 2015, he added.

“We definitely see a great potential in Australia,” Ismail said.

For the timebeing, the airline is focused on growing its “fly-thru” service by reviewing flight slots for all routes across the group to further enhance its network connectivity from and to Australia.

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