‘Tis the season of withdrawals. Air Asia X out of India and Europe

Just while I was trying to get over the loss of American Airlines ORD-DEL, the bad news seems to be just starting to roll in. Just today, Air Asia X, the long haul carrier of the low-cost Air Asia group, decided to pull out of India and Europe. Air Asia used to operate an A330 service to Mumbai and Delhi from Kuala Lampur, and an A340 service to Paris and London. They recently scaled down these services in the Winter 2011 schedule.

Now, with effect from February 1, 2012 Air Asia X will stop flying to Mumbai, and from March 23, 2012, the Delhi service will stop. Why? Its the economy, and the high fuel prices, and the low tourism industry, and the high navigation and airport charges. What else? The visa issues between the two countries. Earlier, Indians could get into Malaysia using a visa on arrival. That facility has been withdrawn. Also, people travelling to India seem to have issues on the visitor visas with the government deciding that no one could re-enter within 6 months of the last trip. Air Asia also states that airport charges are out of reach for their low cost model.

Paris Orly and London Gatwick will also see withdrawls of service from 31st March 2012. The EU Carbon Tax is a culprit here, and also the high cost of oil. Also, its the economy, stupid! No one wants to go to Malaysia on a low cost carrier these days.

Do note that Air Asia (AK) continues operations to India on their A320 service to smaller bases like Trichy.

I guess, I am bracing for impact now. If I travel to Malaysia this year for the Formula 1, I think I’ll save it for next year when Malaysia Airlines will be on the oneworld alliance then.

There is a silver lining in all this bad news by the way. A few less people in the immigration queues and a little less competition to get a seat in a lounge! Don’t feel bad like me!


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Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. The recent share swap between Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia is also a driver for these cutbacks, not the lack of travellers. Malaysia Airlines will start running A380s from KL to London within the next few months so the demand must exist. In return, Air Asia now flies to Sydney which was previously denied by Malaysia Airlines.

    In addition, it should be noted that low cost model does not work so well on long haul flights. Improving turnaround times, etc has minimal impact on such a long flight.

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