AirAsia X outlines major changes to its inflight service offering

Singapore
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AirAsia X, the long-haul low-cost associate of Malaysia's AirAsia, is confident that its plan to have flat beds and a higher seat pitch will pay off due to its cost advantage and customer demand.

"Our costs are significantly lower because we use our aircraft far more frequently than others. We know that we have one of the lowest cost bases in the world and we can build on that," says Azran Rani-Osman, CEO of AirAsia X.

"What matters most to people, what our passengers value the most, is the seat - and we'll throw in a pillow and blanket. They don't see the need for a nice lounge, champagne, five-star food and so on - and so we don't have those."

The carrier has begun refurbishing its existing fleet of Airbus A330s and A340s, and expects to complete this by June. All its upcoming aircraft will have the new seats.

As part of this overhaul, it is taking out the in-flight entertainment in its aircraft and will instead offer portable IFE sets for a price.

"In-flight entertainment is over-rated. On overnight flights, many people just want to rest or sleep. For those who want it, they are willing to pay for it. And we are also adding power points at every seat, allowing passengers to play on their PSPs or use their laptops. These are more beneficial for the passengers," says Azran.

"We also save money by taking out the in-flight entertainment. Having the system and wiring adds 1.5t of weight to the aircraft. We will save fuel by doing away with it," he adds.

He adds that the price of the premium class seat with a flat bed will be a third of that on conventional business class, and be comparable to that of the economy class on full service carriers.

"Full service carriers may have their frequent flier programmes and so on, but we are confident that passengers will choose us when they realise that you can have a flat bed for the price of an economy class seat," he says.