AirAsia wants to launch new long-haul flights to the United States. However, the airline recently experienced a bit of a setback with that plan. Now, in order to establish flights to the United States, the airline is eyeing new long-haul flights with AirAsia Japan.
The FAA downgrades Malaysia
The United States Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, recently downgraded Malaysia’s safety rating. Unfortunately, this impacted AirAsia’s plans to launch new flights to the United States. With Malaysia’s Category 2 safety rating, airlines are not allowed to introduce new flights to the United States.
Malaysia is not the only country affected by such a change. Costa Rica recently lost Category 1 status and Thailand has been working on regaining Category 1 status, although it has not had much success recently. However, some other countries successfully gained Category 1 status. This includes Vietnam and now opens up a plethora of opportunities for airlines to establish new routes to the growing tourist hub.
AirAsia and long-haul flights to the US
Anticipating new long-haul flights, the airline placed an extensive order for long-haul Airbus A330neo aircraft. California was one destination on AirAsia’s radar. Although the airline currently operates the A330-300 aircraft, the A330neo offers better fuel economy and range than the original A330 variants.
AirAsia’s new plans
Tony Fernandes, CEO of the AirAsia Group, sees an opportunity to expand new flights to the United States through AirAsia’s Japan subsidiary according to reporting from Air Transport World. Japan does have Category 1 safety status. However, the airline would need to secure government approval.
As well as this, the airline would have to transfer some long-haul A330neo aircraft to AirAsia Japan. Currently, the airline does operate A330 flights between Honolulu and Osaka. For those who want a little extra comfort on a flight, AirAsia offers premium flatbed seating.
The downside of AirAsia Japan launching United States flights
Flying to the United States can be lucrative for many airlines. In the case of AirAsia, however, there are some downsides to flying to the United States via Japan. First off, there are a number of airlines who fly between Japan and the United States. Moreover, AirAsia offers better options out of Malaysia for connections than Japan. To launch long-haul services, AirAsia would have to set up a base in Japan.
Ultimately, a lot is out of AirAsia’s control to launch United States flights. Malaysia and the FAA will have to work on restoring the country’s Category 1 status. Until then, however, AirAsia will have to either hold off on new flights to the US or else launch flights through AirAsia Japan. As of now, it is unclear exactly which option AirAsia will choose.
Do you think AirAsia should launch new flights to the United States from Japan? Let us know in the comments!