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The low-cost carriers have revolutionized the world of aviation and piled enormous pressure on the shoulders of legacy carriers. So far most of this competition has been focused on short-haul routes, with budget airlines being able to take advantage of the economies delivered by aircraft such as the Boeing 737, and Airbus A320. Long-haul travel has remained mostly the protected domain of legacy carriers, but even that has been changing. WOW and Norwegian have started to make a significant impact on flights from the US to Europe. Now, routes to Asia are coming into the sights of low-cost carries, with AirAsia X getting approval to start operating flights to and from the US.
Although nothing has been announced yet, it remains unclear how exactly AirAsia X will offer flights to the US with its current fleet configuration. The company currently owns 22 Airbus A330-300 with a range of 6,350 nautical miles. This range is insufficient for the airline to operate flights to the continental US, with the only possible routes being from its hub in Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu or Alaska.
The possible solution for this is the new aircraft AirAsia X is acquiring since the airline is taking delivery of 10 Airbus A350-900 starting in 2018. With their range of 8,100 nautical miles, these aircraft would bring most US west coast destinations within the flight envelope of aircraft departing from AirAsia X’s main hubs.
AirAsia X does offer Premium cabin with fully lie-flat seat, which is currently available on long-haul flights within Asia. The cost of these seats is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other offerings from legacy carriers. We hope AirAsia X will bring this Premium cabin for a budget price experience on its new long-haul destinations in the US.
With no real low-cost carrier operating a transpacific service, this is great news and should result in cheaper flights. Although no start dates have been announced, it should be some time before all the logistics and operational issues are sorted out and put in place. Nevertheless, the initial approval to begin its low-cost operations is an excellent step in the right direction.
Source: The Points Guy/JT Genter
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