AirAsia still eyeing US West Coast flights

Travellers in the US and Canada could find fares to South-East Asia plummeting if budget carrier AirAsia carries through on plans to fly to several cities on North America’s West Coast.

Asia’s biggest low-cost operator says it is exploring flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Vancouver.

The services would be operated by the group’s long-haul arm, AirAsia X, which already flies to the Hawaii via Osaka in Japan.

AirAsia has been running hot and cold on whether it would fly to the West Coast and earlier this year indicated it was abandoning plans to return to Europe.

But an interview in the New York Post with AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes indicated the US mainland plans were still very much on the boil.

An AirAsia spokeswoman later confirmed the airline was looking at the four North American destinations but told AirlineRatings she was unable to share further details at this time.

“From America to South-East Asia, there’s not a lot of connectivity,’’ Fernandes told the New York tabloid. “Rather than beat a dead horse with (flying) to Europe … it seems logical to make American our next frontier.’’

AirAsia X entered the US market in June this year with a four times weekly service from its home base of Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka.

The service kicked off with launch fares as low as $US99 one way to Osaka and $US149 to Kuala Lumpur , with a round-trip Honolulu-Osaka-Kuala Lumpur fare coming in as low as $US347.02.

Fernandes also indicated flights to New York were on his wish list but not yet.

“New York is not the immediate future, but the West Coast is not far off,’’ he said.

The carrier uses 377-seat A330-300s boasting 12 premium flat bed seats and 365 economy seats to serve destinations across Asia, Australia, the Middle east and Africa.  The airline’s premium cabin includes perks such as priority check-in and boarding, meals and a free baggage allowance.

It took delivery of its last two classic A330s in June ahead of the arrival A330-900neos  in 2018.  It has 66 of the re-engined A330s on order as well as 10 Airbus A350s.

However, the AirAsia Group has been embroiled in a number of controversies and several incidents in which it has been involved are currently under investigation in Australia.

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