AirAsia X is considering plans to launch flights from Malaysia to Istanbul, as well as “potentially” to cities in Central Asia, as it ramps up flying to Mainland China in the near-term.

In comments made alongside the release of its financial results, the medium-haul, low-cost operator makes no mention of plans to launch long-haul flights to London – to be operated via Dubai – which was first disclosed about a year ago.

AirAsia X A330

Source: Wikimedia Commons

An AirAsia X Airbus A330 at Seoul Incheon airport.

Airline chief Benyamin Ismail, however, notes that the airline’s strategy currently is to “resume services to our core markets in line with demand”. The Malaysia-headquartered carrier mainly flies to North Asian markets - including Japan, Mainland China and South Korea – as well as to Australia and India.

“In the coming quarters, the team will further ramp up flight frequencies and is looking to launch more destinations to China while reviewing new services to Istanbul and potentially Central Asia,” says Ismail.

AirAsia X had initially planned to make a highly-anticipated return to London at end-2022, but by October, those plans appeared to be delayed, in favour of a medium-haul network within Asia.

The network update comes as the airline remained in the black for the quarter to 31 March, posting an operating profit of around MYR308 million ($66.9 million).

Revenue for the quarter stood at MYR549 million, a four-fold increase year on year. AirAsia X also notes that the figure is about half that of the same quarter in pre-pandemic 2019.

The airline carried more than 504,000 passengers during the quarter, a 49% increase against the previous quarter. AirAsia X attributes the increase to new year holidays and spring season travel demand, and helped by an increase in seat capacity.

During the quarter, AirAsia X had a fleet of 14 Airbus A330s, of which nine were operational. Thai associate AirAsia X Thailand had five operational A330s out of eight.

Says Ismail: “Our key priority remains to ensure that more aircraft are activated within the stipulated timeline with all safety requirements fulfilled. We have been actively engaging with third-party aircraft lessors for the induction of additional aircraft to join AirAsia X’s growing fleet.”

The airline has, as at end-May, a fleet of 11 operational A330s, out of a fleet of 17 aircraft.