AirAsia X readies for North Asia operation and considers Paris

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AirAsia X expects to begin daily operations to Seoul Incheon airport in November says the carrier's CEO Azran Osman-Rani, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Australia Pacific Aviation Outlook Summit in Sydney.

The carrier has also made an application to the Japanese government to start services to Tokyo at either Narita or Haneda airports, says Azran.

He says the frequency would depend on the traffic rights the Japanese government grants. AirAsia X is prepared to offer daily services, he adds.

AirAsia X is still considering flying to Paris, says Azran, adding that the carrier's two Airbus A340-300s are the only suitable aircraft for the route and are now used for the carrier's London service.

Azran is not looking to acquire additional A340s, so expanding to Paris would come at the cost of fewer London services.

AirAsia X has explored opening a long-haul base from other Asian cities including Bangkok. A base there would enable AirAsia X to serve some European cities with Airbus A330 aircraft, says Azran.

While the carrier has been put off because of recent uprisings in Bangkok, it is interested in using the city's old Don Muang airport as a low-cost hub, says Azran. He adds the Thai authorities are seriously considering it, which would be the "first foundational step" to eventually operating a long-haul hub from there.

Operating to Sydney has continued to prove elusive, says Azran. The carrier has been hoping for over a year to announce a service but has not received permission from the Malaysian government.

"Sydney Airport is ready. The Australian government is ready. Tourism New South Wales is ready. We're ready. It just needs the Malaysian government's okay," says Azran.

"If I get the green light from the Malaysian government I'll launch it the next day," he says.

AirAsia X flies to Australia's Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Perth. Azran re-affirmed that he expects his carrier to serve five Australian destinations by 2012.