AirAsia X low cost carrier is withdrawing its once popular flights to London and Paris starting from this April 2012! As part of its network re-aligning exercise to focus more on the profitable markets, Airasia X announced last week that a total of 4 flight routes including both the European cities, Delhi and Mumbai of India will soon be ceased from flying! Oh my god! I can’t believe the super duper cheap flights that have helped me to realise both of my Europe trips last 2 years will soon be dropped from Airasia X’s flight route map! I was still browsing through my photo albums of London and Paris to search for the best photos for Airasia Photo Contest last night!
According to the announcement, Airasia X decided to cease both the European flights mainly because of the high fuel cost, new going-to-be-imposed Emissions Trading Scheme and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in UK, not due to its demand, knowing and witnessing myself that the recording load factors of over 80% from both flight routes in 2010.
This is in fact a real bad news of this new year 2012, remembering how Airasia X low cost carrier had inspired me to visit Europe twice in 2 years due to its cheap long haul flight option, and I’m actually planning to fly to Europe again end of this year (which was how I got to know this news). Could this be one of its move to eliminate those competing flight routes with MAS, after their merging exercise in the second half of last year? I don’t know, but it is a real sad news to me…
Budget travelers are filled with despair at the announcement and will need to work harder to fulfill their Europe travel dreams. I have to work even harder to complete my e-guide “From Travel To Photo” which help avid travelers to plan for their budget trip to Europe.
All passengers on the affected flights from the UK, France, and India will be given the option to cancel their reservation and opt for Refund/Credit Shell, re-route to any other AirAsia X destinations or transfer to an alternative airline subject to availability, without any additional cost to the passenger.
Here is the abstract of the Airasia X announcement:
AirAsia X, the long haul, low fare affiliate of AirAsia, today announced a realignment of its network with a focus on its core markets.
The move will see AirAsia X withdrawing services to India (Mumbai and Delhi) and Europe (Paris, London) from its Kuala Lumpur hub as follows:
- Mumbai- Four weekly services will be suspended with the last flight on 31 January, 2012
- New Delhi- Daily services will be suspended with the last flight on 22 March, 2012. Flights in March will be reduced to four weekly services.
- London- Six weekly services will be suspended with the last flight on 31 March, 2012
- Paris- Four weekly services will be suspended with the last flight on 30 March, 2012
Note: Further details on AirAsia X’s withdrawal of Europe and India destinations:
- Europe (London and Paris) -AirAsia X started flights to London in March 2009. At that time, oil prices were less than US$40/barrel, and have since tripled. With the Arab Spring unrest of 2011 spilling over to the unrests in Syria and Iranian oil embargo this year, oil prices are expected to remain high and crippling the economics of long-haul flights, where fuel represents over 50% of operating cost. Moreover, the European situation is also compounded by a very weak economy and depressed consumer demand, which has resulted in a reduction in the number of passengers from Europe on the flights over the past several months. Flights to Europe have also been burdened by exorbitant government taxes such as the UK Air Passenger Duty which will be increased to £92 per departing economy passenger and £184 per departing Premium passenger from 1 April 2012. From 1 January 2012, the European Governments have also imposed an additional carbon tax under their Emissions Trading Scheme, which further adds to an already high cost. The confluence of macro-factors, including high fuel prices, depressed European economy and exorbitant taxes have made it economically impossible to sustain these flights, despite AirAsia X recording load factors of over 80% for its London and Paris flights in 2011. Attempts to increase fares to reflect the higher operating cost recently have shown the price elasticity of travel, with demand falling down adversely.
- India (Mumbai and New Delhi) – AirAsia X launched flights to Mumbai and Delhi in 2010. Structural issues in the Indian aviation market have made it difficult to operate economically viable flights. The airport and handling costs in New Delhi and Mumbai are already more expensive than even airports in Australia, and the authorities have just approved a massive 280% increase in airport fees effective April 2012. The Indian routes have also been under-pressure when the Malaysian Government removed Visa-on-Arrival facilities in August 2010, soon after the routes were launched. This places Malaysia at a significant disadvantage versus Thailand and Singapore who offer Indian tourists convenient Visa-on-Arrival facilities.
Now I really need to search around for more affordable long haul flights to Europe, probably via Skyscanner, if I were to visit Europe again this year. – Travel Feeder, your ultimate photo travel guide to Europe