Where Could AirAsia X Fly The Airbus A321XLR?

With the groundbreaking news that AirAsia X has ordered 30 brand new Airbus A321XLR aircraft, many are now wondering where it plans to fly the aircraft and how the low-cost carrier will deploy it among its network.

AirAsia X has lots of flexibility with the new A321XLR. Photo: Bryan Lee Via Flickr

Where will the aircraft be based?

The first question is the easiest to answer. AirAsia X is based out of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and thus it is likely that these new A321XLR’s would be stationed there on shuttle routes.

Airbus A321XLR infographic
The Airbus A321XLR is one of the longest-range narrowbodies on the market. Rendering: Airbus

Knowing that the range of the A321XLR is around 4,700 nautical miles (give or take a few, depending on cargo load) we can make some judgements about where would be in reach of the South East Asian hub.

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KUL
4700 nautical miles from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: GC Maps

Looking at this map, we can see plenty of destinations that AirAsia X could fly the aircraft to. But we also have to keep in mind that the airline also has a fleet of A330 aircraft (24 A330-300s and 78 A330-900neos on order). Thus, to help narrow down the possible list of destinations, we need to look at what the new A321XLRs be best suited for: long-range, low-density routes or routes that require a lot of frequency.

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For example, whilst AirAsia X doesn’t fly to Dubai yet, likely they will deploy the bigger A330 on that route instead of the A321XLR. Additionally, it would have to be worthwhile in terms of distance as AirAsia (the main airline that owns AirAsia X) already has plenty of smaller planes for local Asia destinations.

Here are our initial predictions:

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Cairo, Egypt

Flying right across the world to the land of the pyramids, AirAsia X could become a transfer airline for tourists heading from Australia to this land of cultural opportunities.

The A321XLR could make the journey. Photo: GC Maps

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

So far, AirAsia X has no routes to Africa. Dar es Salaam could be a gateway to the region for the airline and a perfect route to open up with the A321XLR.

Tanzania
The route linking South East Asia and Africa. Photo: GC Maps

Alternative destinations in the region could be the French territory of Reunion. AirAsia X already flies to Mauritius nearby.

Queenstown, New Zeland.

Testing the limits of the aircraft would be a route all the way to the popular tourist destination of Queenstown. This summer and winter destination is the gateway to the South Island and an easy sell for the airline.

The long route to Queenstown. Photo: GC Maps

AirAsia X already flies into Christchurch so there is already some infrastructure for the airline in the region.

Cairns, Australia

This last route might seem like a bit of an odd choice, but it has more merit to it than initially appears. Cairns International Airport actually sees services from a range of international destinations in Asia, such as Shenzen on Hainan Airlines, Bali with Jetstar and even Singapore on Silk Air.

Cairns deserves more international links to nearby Asian countries. Photo: GC Maps

A link directly to the hub of Kuala Lumpur would be perfect for the airline and actually allow AirAsia X to compete directly with rival Silk Air.

There are plenty of other routes not mentioned in today’s article, and with 30 A321XLRs on the way, AirAsia X will be spoilt for choice.

What do you think? Can you think of any routes that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments.

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SyafiqAsyraf

Maybe AirAsiaX can fly to Moscow, Istanbul, Nairobi, Qatar, Baku and Kiev with their new A321XLR.

gnoelj

Kuala Lumpur to Dar es Salaam? Unlikely. The proportion of Malaysians/East Asians visiting Africa, let alone Tanzania , is not huge. Malaysians seem to prefer Asian, British/ European, Australiasian and some North American destinations rather than African destinations.

You might argue Kuala Lumpur -Queenstown might be a possibility. But do you realise how small Queenstown airport is? It only attracted about 2.1million passengers a year. The size of that market may not be attractive enough for AirAsiaX. The airline seems to go for markets that can attract a steady and high number of people using its flights.

And what about Kuala Lumpur-Cairns? That might be a possibility but that could be seasonal. AirAsia X does not seem to like seasonal schedules, but correct me if I am mistaken.

So, where would AirAsiaX put their A321XLRs?

For a start, I do not believe AirAsia is putting all its A321XLR within just its Malaysian-subsidiary AirAsiaX. It may use some of the aircraft for its other subsidiaries, eg Thai AirAsiaX, AirAsiaIndia and Indonesia AirAsiaX. It may also use some of them for AirAsia India, or Philippines AirAsia.

AIRASIA X

Let’s start with AirAsia X, from Kuala Lumpur, it might replace some routes currently provided by its A330s with A321XLRs, and increasing its frequency. Examples, KUL-Shanghai , KUL-Sapporo KUL-Chongqing, KUL-Chendu, KUL-Fukuoka, and so on. (AirAsiaX could interchange some routes served by AirAsia)

In addition, it may start new routes, eg KUL-Okinawa, KUL-Seychelles, KUL-Sendai, KUL-Wellington, or restart old routes they have stopped in the past, eg KUL-Teheran KUL-Mauritius KUL-Adelaide? One might also be tempted to think it might even link up with Gulf Air and create a KUL-Bahrain code-share flight, as well as connecting with other Gufl Air flights out of Bahrain, but that may be a bit far fetched.

It could also enter into the Haj market and start KUL-Medina.

In addition to flights from Kuala Lumpur, it could use its A321XLR to start flights from its other bases in Malaysia eg
Penang (PEN), Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Johor Bahru (JHB). Just think about the possibility of starting
the following flights:

PEN- Tokyo
PEN-Osaka
PEN-Seoul
PEN-Shanghai
PEN-Beijing
PEN-Taipei
PEN-Sydney
PEN-Perth
PEN-Melbourne

or

BKI-Tokyo
BKI-Osaka
BKI-Seoul
BKI-Busan
BKI-Perth
BKI-Brisbane
BKI-Sydney
BKI-Melbourne

THAI AIRASIA X

Like its sister AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia X could use the A321XLR to boost the frequency of some of its current routes served with A330s, or it could even start new long haul flights from Phuket or ChiangMai.

Ever thought of

HKT-Tokyo
HKT-Osaka
HKT-Seoul
HKT-Shanghai
HKT-Beijing
HKT-Dubai
HKT-Jeddah
HKT-Bahrain
HKT-Kuwait
HKT-Perth
HKT-Sydney
HKT-Melbourne
HKT-Brisbane
HKT-Adelaide

….and so on?

You could try a few of those cities but flying from Chiang Mai as well.

INDONESIA AIR ASIA X

This airline might be able to use some of the A321XLR from Denpasar or Jakarta to Australia, New Zealand, Japan , Korea or China. Think about:

DEN-Sydney
DEN-Melbourn
DEN-Brisbane
DEN-Auckland
DEN-Christchurch
DEN-Wellington
DEN-Tokyo
DEN-Seoul

And what about

JKT-Medina
JKT-Jeddah
JKT-Tokyo
JKT-Sydney
JKT-Seoul
Medan-Medina
Medan-Jeddah

AIRASIA INDIA

And what about its Indian subsidiary, which is aiming to start international flights? AirAsia India could start
flight from Bengaluru to cities in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and the Middle East.

AIRASIA JAPAN

This airline could also use some of the A321XLR to start flights from Tokyo or Osaka to Guam, Saipan, Bangkok, Phuket, Hanoi, HoChiMinh, Danang, Rangoon, and Singapore.

So you can see , the possiblities for utilizing the A321XLR for all its subsidiary airlines within the AirAsia group are quite immense.

Rupert Crowson

Hopefully they will fly back into London Stn

Tim Wong

Base it in Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and fly to Sydney.

Vince

The A321XLR range of 4700nm is with 160pax in 2 class configuration with neutral conditions. In practical application, Airasia will most likely seat their A321XLR with more than 200 passengers. Take into account headwinds etc, the realistic range for Airasia’s A321XLR is slightly below 4000nm. That however will be good enough for them to cover many smaller destination in East Asia (Japan, Korea) and Australia (adelaide, hobart, cairns) as current A321neo will only have range of slightly over 2500nm when seated with more than 200 passengers.

Vishnu

Deploy A321XLR with AirAsia India,they can k**l the market

Ken

Air Asia X’s current primary focus is North Asia, particularly Northern China and would continue to do so. I believe their strategy would be converting current routes with lower load factor from A330 to A321XLR, which should include Xian, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Tianjin and also deploy A321XLR for routes from KUL to secondary Cities such as Shenyang, Qingdao, Nanchang, Nanjing, Zhenzhou, Jinan, Harbin etc. A330 or A330NEO will only be deployed for trunk routes or routes beyond the range of A321XLR