Kansai International Airport (KIX) will gain a new service with the start of Malaysia’s low-cost, long-haul AirAsia X from 30 January 2019.
Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia X, which offers a belly cargo product, will operate the route connecting Kansai to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) in Taipei, four times a weeks using A330 aircraft.
With the launch, AirAsia Group will serve the most routes to KIX among other airports in Japan, adding Taipei to the group’s three existing destinations to the airport: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Honolulu.
While Taipei is one of the popular destinations among Japanese due to its proximity, the number of Taiwanese visiting Japan is also growing, showing a 9.5 per cent year-on-year increase, according to JINTO data.
The AirAsia X’s new flights will bring the number of weekly flights between KIX and Taipei to 134, which is expected to make travel between the two countries more convenient and help boost travel demand.
Kansai Airports said it will continue to explore opportunities to expand its global network including low-cost carrier routes.
Meanwhile, AirAsia X co-group chief executive Tony Fernandes has reaffirmed the carrier’s intention to start flights to the west coast of the US via Japan after it receives its first A330neos in late 2019.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia Review, Fernandes noted 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. We haven’t finished the evaluation, but that is definitely our plan,” he said.
Fernandes added 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. The carrier has 100 A330-900s on order that will be delivered between the fourth quarter of 2019 through to 2028.