Monday, August 24, 2009

Malaysia's AirAsia expands to Mideast in November

19 August 2009

Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia said Wednesday it will launch flights to Abu Dhabi in November, marking its first foray into the Middle East.

The new Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi route, operated by the carrier's long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, will begin Nov. 23 with five weekly flights in time for the peak travel season for Muslims, it said in a statement.

AirAsia X Chief Executive Azran Osman-Rani said it indicated the group's expansion plans were on track despite the global economic slump.

The airline sees a potentially lucrative market in Abu Dhabi, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates with a population of 2 million -- of which more than 80 percent are frequent traveling expatriates, he said.

"We believe our low fares will help to stimulate and trigger new travel demand, and will help to boost tourism potential on both ends," he said.

The carrier is offering a promotional fare of 99 ringgit ($28) for a one-way ticket, which is exclusively available online Aug. 20-26 for travel between Nov. 23 and July 31, 2010.

AirAsia X, which began long-haul operations in November 2007, currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to London, Australia, Taiwan and China.

Airlines worldwide are suffering as the economic slump cuts demand for air travel.

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