Malaysian long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X is suspending its services to London Gatwick and Paris Orly, as well as its flights to Mumbai and New Delhi.

"These changes will improve operating cost efficiencies and consolidate [AirAsia X's] network to focus on markets where it can build a leadership position in 2012," said short-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia's associate in a statement.

It plans to focus on its "core markets" in Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, and open up new services and add frequencies on existing ones, it added.

"AirAsia X remains focused on maintaining its global leadership position in the low cost, long-haul segment," said the airline's CEO Azran Osman-Rani in a statement.

"The continued high jet fuel prices and the weakening demand for air travel from Europe, brought about by the current economic situation together with exorbitant government taxes, have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low-cost flights between Asia and Europe, compromising our ability to offer the low fares AirAsia X is known for."

He added that the implementation of the European Union's Emissions Trading System and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in the UK, which are set to rise again in April, forced the airline's hand.

Visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges in India, resulted in a "structure not conducive to the low-cost model", he added. The airline could reinstate the Mumbai and New Delhi services when these issues are resolved, he said.

AirAsia X's four-times weekly Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai services will be suspended on 31 January, the daily service to New Delhi will be reduced to four-times weekly in March and suspended from 22 March, the six-times weekly London service will be suspended on 31 March, and the four-times weekly Mumbai service on 30 March.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news