02 February 2010
PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X will temporarily suspend its flights to Abu Dhabi beginning Feb 21 in a bid to re-align its fleet to cover priority areas, contrary to market perception that it is pulling out due to stiff competition from Etihad Airways.
“No, not because of (competition). We are temporarily suspending the flights to prepare for other flights especially to India but we will revert back to Abu Dhabi at a later date,” AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani told StarBiz.
AirAsia and AirAsia X have received approval to fly to five major destinations in India beginning April this year.
“We cannot be flying five times weekly to Abu Dhabi, we need more frequencies, better airplanes and capacity before we get back there,” Azran said.
AirAsia X began flying to Abu Dhabi in November with load factors of over 65%, using its A340 aircraft.
The low-cost carrier’s A330 seats are not as comfortable and to add more flights or use the A330 does not bode well for AirAsia X on that route, where passengers demand quality and comfort.
It has embarked on a seat refurbishment exercise and would be grounding planes to fit the new seats.
The re-alignment of its fleet to make way for the retrofit is necessary.
AirAsia X will get back to Abu Dhabi when the new seats have been fitted into its aircraft, according to a source.