Kuala Lumpur-based, long-haul, low-cost carrier AirAsia X announced this week its return to New Zealand, launching daily flights to Auckland from Kuala Lumpur via Australia’s Gold Coast beginning 22 March. The service will utilise A330-300 aircraft and will also mark AirAsia X’s first foray into the trans-Tasman market. The low-cost carrier suspended its KL-Christchurch service in May 2012, citing high operating costs.
And despite reporting substantial losses – RM288 million (US$65.8 million) between July to September 2015, its eighth consecutive quarterly net loss – the airline also plans to launch two more routes to China in the second half of 2016 with AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail saying Hawaii could also be in the works.
AirAsia X Berhad is expecting to be back in the black by the fourth quarter of 2016 after suffering massive losses in 2015 aggravated by a depreciating Malaysian currency. AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes is confident of returning to the black in the current financial year ending 31 December 2016.
“AirAsia X is really going to prove all the critics wrong this year,” Fernandes said. “Benyamin and the team are doing a fantastic job. We are confident that AirAsia X will be profitable this year. Rather than talk too much, let’s deliver results.” Ismail said the company has started to show positive results with promising forward booking through its new capacity management and revenue strategy.
Following the Auckland launch, AirAsia X will serve a network of 19 destinations in nine countries: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Australia, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Ismail recently confirmed his airline and sister carrier AirAsia have considered the possibility of privatisation following a very rough ride this past year on the Malaysian stock exchange. “If you look on, as a shareholder, the valuation of the company is very cheap at the moment, it is very good to take it private,” Benyamin told Bloomberg news. “However, at the moment, it’s not on the cards.”