More Competition Coming: AirAsia X Says They’re Approved to Fly to the U.S.

Asian low cost carrier AirAsia X, affiliate of various Asia Asia short haul carriers, reports that it has received permission to fly to the US.

Malaysia’s AirAsia X Bhd (AIRX.KL) said it had become Asia’s first low-cost carrier to receive approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to any destination within the United States.

The long-haul airline in a statement said it gained approval from the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and that it was considering flights to several U.S. states, including Hawaii.

Credit: uskarp / 123RF Stock Photo

AirAsia X currently operates 30 Airbus A330-300s with 12 premium seats and 365 passengers in economy. They fly to:

  • Asia: Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Seoul, Busan, Taipei, Xian, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai, Chongqing, New Delhi and Kathmandu, Malaysia
  • Australia and New Zealand: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Gold Coast, Auckland
  • Middle East: Jeddah, Tehran and Muscat
  • Africa: Mauritius

There are 10 Airbus A350-900s on order and it seems as though these could be used next year to resume service to London and perhaps to the U.S. although they would have to convert orders to the Ultra Long Range A350s to serve the mainland from Kuala Lumpur hence the suggestion of Hawaii and that an ultra low cost carrier is well-suited for leisure destinations without major competition from a U.S. airline.

Whether or not AirAsia X serves U.S. markets in the near- or medium-term, the long term trend is greater low cost competition for international routes. Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary has been approved to fly to the US finally. Their UK subsidiary is in the queue.

Copyright william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

I’ve argued that it’s not the big Middle East carriers US airlines need to worry about competing against — it’s low cost airlines like Norwegian and Ryanair. And the election of Donald Trump notwithstanding the long run trend is for greater foreign competition. Indeed, with consolidation of the U.S. airline industry what consumers need is foreign competition in U.S. domestic markets.

Even before approval of operations via the Irish subsidiary Norwegian is a big part of why we’re seeing deeper discount transatlantic fares than ever before – like $252 roundtrip.

(HT: @istrakhov)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. can you elaborate on the Trump comment? this is not a politically motivated question – I am actually curious.

  2. The US formally pulled out of the transpacific partnership this week, central to the President’s campaign was limits on movement of people and goods.

  3. Yes, I’m aware of our withdrawal and the (probable) eventual demise of the TPP, but I don’t see how that would have a positive effect on foreign competition serving the US in this respect.

  4. “what consumers need is foreign competition in U.S. domestic markets”

    Agreed. Let’s make this happen.

  5. Worst long-haul Airbus configuration of any airline. Extremely uncomfortable even in front of economy cabin with the allegedly better seats. Planes generally not very clean either. But cheap cheap cheap. Especially when you buy those tickets for literally 20 ringgits during their Big Sale.

  6. If AirAsia can make this work, good for them. They are a for-profit airline, so any route to the USA would have to actually be profitable to operate. There are obviously a lot of obstacles to offering low fare service across the Pacific, but maybe they can find a market. Personally, I find the existing level of comfort in coach to Asia to be pretty low, but there may be people who are even more gluttons for punishment if they can save another buck.

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