Wednesday, March 7, 2012

AirAsia X (Malaysia Budget Airline) ready to pull out of New Zealand

AirAsia X (Malaysia Budget Airline) ready to pull out of New Zealand
Air Asia
Large numbers of New Zealand tourists will have their holiday plans affected if AirAsia X pulls out of the Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur route, a leading travel agent says.

Industry sources say the Malaysian budget airline has approached Air New Zealand about the availability of special fares to cater for passengers who will have their travel plans disrupted by their flights being cancelled.

The fares needed to be available in the next few weeks, sources said.

House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas said: "There is a significant number of forward bookings from House of Travel on AirAsia X.

"It has proven to be from an outbound point of view to be a very popular service."

That was due to the cheap fares on offer to Kuala Lumpur and beyond, he said.

If the airline did pull out, "it would be a fairly big issue and we would have to work through with a large number of customers. But at this stage it is pretty much wait and see," Thomas said.

"We haven't had anything specific from the airline. Like a lot of airlines they are working through what routes are working from them and which ones aren't."

Passengers previously booked on domestic Air New Zealand flights to and from Christchurch to connect with AirAsia X services would instead need to be rebooked on trans-Tasman services to catch an AirAsia X flight from Sydney.

AirAsia X spokeswoman Sherliza Zaharudin said "We will make an announcement should there be a decision on the route which will include guests travel options".

Air New Zealand spokesman Mark Street said it was not up to the airline to comment on the affairs of another carrier.

AirAsia X was still taking bookings yesterday on its website for travel for the rest of this year.

The service has been credited with significantly boosting the number of high value Malaysian tourists last year.

The future of the Christchurch service has been in doubt since AirAsia X announced it was reviewing all its routes longer than 10 hours' flying time.

However, the airline's chairwoman, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, reportedly told a Malaysian newspaper on Friday that the most effective routes for the airline were between seven and eight hours long.

The Christchurch service is up to 11 hours. AirAsia X began flying the route up to four times a week in April last year.

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