ROUTES: AirAsia X focuses on building more connections

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AirAsia X’s recent focus on adding more frequencies to existing routes has seen a jump in passengers buying connecting flights.

Azran Osman-Rani, the carrier’s chief executive, says that the airline is expecting nearly half of its passengers this year to take a connecting flight, either with AirAsia X or AirAsia through its Kuala Lumpur hub.

“Over the years as we’ve added to our frequencies, the share of our passengers who are buying two flight sectors has grown very rapidly from about 25% in 2011 to, this year, I think we will have about 46% of our passengers,” he told attendees at the 2014 Routes Asia strategy summit.

He added that most passengers transfer at Kuala Lumpur onto routes where AirAsia has a lot of frequency, for example Phuket. As AirAsia X adds more frequencies to most of its destinations in the next few years, however, he expects to see more passengers taking connections between North Asia and Australia.

“As we get more frequency and have double dailies... that opens up a whole lot more connectivity and that is what drives transfers,” he says.

Osman-Rani adds that the airline is also hoping to work more closely with airports to develop a low cost transfer solution, adding that such a solution is “very, very underdeveloped.”

Singapore Changi airport has implemented one such solution, marketed as ‘Changi connects’. The prduct currently only allows passengers to connect between Tigerair and Scoot flights, although the airport has flagged that it plans to expand the programme to include other airlines in future.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database shows that AirAsia X has a fleet of 16 Airbus A330-300s and two A340-300s in operation, and 47 aircraft on order.