With ultra-low-cost airlines like Norwegian and Iceland’s Wow wreaking havoc on transatlantic air fare competition, a similar battle could be coming to transpacific markets.
Malaysia-based AirAsia X said this week it has won a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly to the U.S. – “the first Asian low-cost carrier to secure approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to the U.S.,” the company said.
However, the airline’s announcement did not include any specific destinations for the new service, nor did it suggest what kinds of fares it might charge. Like other low-cost carriers, AirAsia X offsets its bargain base fares with a variety of extra passenger fees for various amenities and services.
AirAsia X said it is “currently considering flights to several U.S. states including Hawaii as part of its route expansion plans.”
The carrier’s CEO, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, called the decision “a major milestone” for AirAsia X. He added that the airline has also applied to U.K authorities to resume service to London.
AirAsia Group flies from its Kuala Lumpur base to more than 120 destinations in the Asia Pacific region, and it offers customers a mobile app, in-flight Wi-Fi, and an easy connecting service it calls Fly-Thru.
“Fly-Thru allows guests to seamlessly connect to anywhere within AirAsia’s wide network with just one stop at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Asia’s No. 1 low-cost carrier hub – and other convenient transit hubs in Thailand and Indonesia, without having to pass through immigration, and with their baggage checked through to the final destination,” AirAsia X said.
AirAsia X uses an all-Airbus wide-body fleet of A330 -300s, configured with 12 Premium Class flat-bed seats, and 365 economy seats in a 3-3-3 layout. Seatguru.com notes that the AirAsia X A330-300s have eight economy rows right behind the Premium cabin designated as a “quiet zone,” which cost extra. Why are those rows quiet? No kids under age 12 can sit there.