Sunday, September 27, 2009

AirAsia X eyes second French route

PETALING JAYA: While Nice will be AirAsia X’s first port of call in France next year, the long-haul low cost carrier is looking at adding a second destination in the country.

The carrier believed there was strong demand for flights between Nice and Kuala Lumpur but would not be launching the route “anytime soon”, AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said in an interview with Bloomberg TV yesterday.

“Well, I think there’s a huge amount of demand. That would be our first point of call. We’ve also got the whole of the south of France, you’ve got Geneva a couple of hours away and you’ve also got Milan,” he said.

He said AirAsia was innovative in the way it looked at destinations and going to Nice was “really serving the whole of the south of France, a bit of Italy and Switzerland.”

Asked whether there would be more capital fund raising for AirAsia in the next two years, Fernandes said no.

“We had a fantastic roadshow, great demand, so we raised RM500mil. It’s only the second time we’ve been in the market. The first time was our IPO (initial public offering) in 2004,” he said.

The company announced its capital-raising last month to pare down its debt. Fernandes said AirAsia’s business income had been strong and ancilliary income was increasing. “Oil prices have come off substantially so we don’t see ourselves needing capital for a long long time,” he added.

On the expansion of AirAsia’s fleet, Fernandes said the company was looking to take in 16 planes next year, eight planes fewer than originally planned.

“The demand (for travel) has been very good. We’ve continued to outgrow capacity above 20% in the last two quarters (and) this quarter is looking very strong as well in terms of passengers,” he said. He said the carrier had just started flying into India, which “has been looking very good”.

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