AirAsia X to re-enter long-haul market with A350s

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AirAsia X will concentrate on the medium-haul market, and relook the long-haul segment only after it receives its first Airbus A350-900.

The low-cost airline, which has a fleet of Airbus A330-300s, needs the A350's "efficiencies" to make the long-haul operations economical, says AirAsia's group chief executive Tony Fernandes.

The four-engined Airbus A340-300s, which AirAsia's affiliate was operating on services to Paris and London before they were suspended in March, are a "tough aircraft", he adds.

"We see the sweet spot as between four and eight hours. Long-haul will work with a two-engined high density aircraft and so we're waiting for the A350. Right now, we just don't have enough seats and the economics don't work," says Fernandes.

AirAsia X should receive its first A350, which will have a two-class configuration with 10 seats abreast in economy, in 2015 if there are no delays from Airbus, says Fernandes. The carrier has 10 A350s on order.

Earlier this year, AirAsia X suspended services to Paris, London, Mumbai, New Delhi and Christchurch because of rising fuel costs and also to improve operating efficiency.

Its two A340s, which are on lease till 2015, have also been grounded.