Fernandes: No rethink on Europe expansion


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Fernandes: No rethink on Europe expansion

  1. 1. Fernandes: No rethink on Europe expansion2010/12/01The head of budget long-haul carrier AirAsia X said today the eurozone debt crisis would not prevent theairline expanding in Europe and that he hoped to open a route to New York next year.Tony Fernandes said he would “absolutely not” rethink plans to begin new flights into Russia, Hungary andthe Czech Republic, adding that the company had survived other crises in the past.“No (cut back in expansion),” the airline’s founder told AFP. “Absolutely not. We have been through the lastnine years — many financial crises, many oil crises and many political crises — but people still want to fly.“I think AirAsia actually provides a relief from all these financial troubles. People want to get away and havea break. So not at all.” Fernandes was speaking after launching the carrier’s inaugural flight to Christchurch,to which it will begin four non-stop weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur from April 1.The route will add to AirAsia X’s expanding network, which already includes Australia, India, Taiwan, China,Britain, South Korea, Japan and Iran, and will from February 14 also boast France.AirAsia X, an affiliate of regional low-cost carrier AirAsia and Virgin Group, was launched in January 2007.Fernandes cited strong bookings for the Kuala Lumpur-Paris route, which the airline began taking last month,as evidence of the firm’s ability to weather the European financial crisis.“Our strategy has always remained the same despite calamity in the world. I was looking at our load factors toParis, it is truly unbelievable. We are really full. It is one of our best routes,” he said.The airline is aiming to start new routes to Moscow, Budapest and Prague from 2012 after it takes delivery ofnew aircraft.“To me if we can have an entire fleet of A330’s that will be fantastic,” said Fernandes.He added that he also hoped to kick of flights to New York next year, describing North America as being“definitely on our plan”. He added: “We would like to fly from one of the European points into New York andat some stage into Los Angeles. It may come in 2011.” Fernandes said the airline has ordered 25 A330-300and was “pushing” Airbus to provide more range for the planes.“If we can get the A330 into most of Europe then European expansion will be much larger than it ispresently,” he said.On the outlook for the company next year, Fernandes said: “We are optimistic. We had a fantastic threequarters. Our fourth quarter is going to be strong. Bookings for the first quarter is looking good.” -- AFP 1/2
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