AirAsia, the Malaysian budget airline, is aiming to start long-haul flights linking Japan with the United States and Europe, said Chief Executive Tony Fernandes.
The airline aims fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco on the west coast of the US by 2020 from its base in Southeast Asia via Japan, stated a Nikkei Asian Review report.
Although Fernandes said that he sees Japan as a connecting hub, he added that Japanese regulators tend to take too long in allowing airlines to open new routes.
“I think Japan is probably the most progressive in terms of LCC development,” Kyodo News quoted Fernandes. “Japan is 12 hours away from the West Coast of America and 10 hours from London, so we believe it has huge potential.”
The group will use some of the newly ordered Airbus A330neo widebody jets for the long-haul flights. It is expecting delivery of 100 of those from the end of 2019.
AirAsia X, the group’s long-haul unit, will handle the flights to the west coast via Japan either from Malaysia or Thailand. Nagoya is under consideration as the Japanese stopover hub, since the group’s subsidiary is based there.
“We can provide opportunities to customers who care about affordability, and also to Asian customers who want to discover regions other than Tokyo or Osaka,” said Fernandes.