Thursday, October 15, 2009

Air Asia X looks at Jeddah for second hub in Middle East

13 October 2009

Air Asia X, the long-haul budget carrier, is keen to add Jeddah as its second destination in the Middle East and has filed an application with its authorities.

If accepted, the airline hopes to launch its service to the Saudi city by the second half of next year, Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of Air Asia X, told Emirates Business on the sidelines of the Low Cost Airlines World Mena 2009 conference at Al Ain.

A possible third destination in 2011 would likely emerge from a non-GCC country, said Osman-Rani.

"I do think there's scope for a third. Probably not next year but certainly beyond that," he said.

He said the first hub in Abu Dhabi covered the Gulf, while Jeddah in Saudi was also a huge market. "There is a lot of room [for a hub] in a non-Gulf, non-Saudi area," he said.

"Assuming we get a good airport deal and get planes we would add a third destination in 2011," he said.

The airline will add three Airbus A330-300s this year at an approximate cost of $300 million (Dh1.1 billion), which has been financed by Barclays.

Air Asia X is nearly 50 per cent sold for the first month of its Abu Dhabi-Kuala Lumpur service that will start on November 23.

The route opened for sale in August. Malaysian passengers bought 55 per cent of the seats with the remaining sales coming from the UAE.

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