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AirAsia X's Fernandes affirms US west coast plans

AirAsia X co-group chief executive Tony Fernandes has reaffirmed the long-haul low-cost carrier's intention to start flights to the west coast of the United States via Japan after it receives its first Airbus A330neos in late 2019.

He made the comment in a video interview with Nikkei Asia Review, noting that San Francisco and Los Angeles are the destinations it is evaluating.

"If I were I betting man, you'd probably say Los Angeles first. But both have very large Asian communities as well. Both [are destinations] that people want to fly to, anyway. We haven't finished the evaluation but that is definitely our plan," says Fernandes.

He adds however that AirAsia X's A330-300s cannot reach either destination, and thus the expansion will have to wait on the delivery of its A330-900s.

AirAsia X has 100 A330-900s on order that will be delivered between the fourth quarter of 2019 through to 2028.

In 2016, AirAsia X Malaysia chief executive Benyamin Ismail told FlightGlobal that it was exploring long-term plans to launch services to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas from Japan.In June 2017 the low-cost carrier launched a Kuala Lumpur-Osaka Kansa-Honolulu service, which to date is its only US route.

Fernandes also lauded Japan's geographic position as a great destination for airlines.

"Tokyo, because of the shape of the world, it is so central to the world," he says. "It is 12 hours to Los Angeles, it is 12 hours to Boston, it is 10 hours to Europe. It really is fantastic positioning for an airline."

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