Cut-Price UK-Asia Airline Takes Off

LONDON ~ Budget airline AirAsia X launched a low-cost service from London to Kuala Lumpur this week, saying it offered travel to Asia for the price of a trip to Europe.

The Malaysia-based carrier launched the route from London’s Stansted airport with promotional fares of £99 (US$12) one way, although regular fares will be £149 one way.

“Since Sir Freddie Laker’s Skytrain, no airline has ever managed to carry passengers this far at such low fares,” said AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes on Wednesday, referring to pioneering transatlantic budget carrier in the 1970s.

“This is a revolutionary moment for the aviation industry and a great day for passengers, who can have an amazing Asian experience for the price of travelling to Europe,” he added.

Stansted airport north of London is the hub of top European budget carrier Ryanair. Its commercial and development director Nick Barton said it “was fitting that AirAsia X selected us as the gateway through which to connect their expansive route network.”

AirAsia X had planned to launch flights to Britain in December but difficulties in securing a leased airplane forced it to postpone.

Hong Kong low-cost carrier Oasis went into administration last April, less than two years after launching a service that included flights from Hong Kong to London and Vancouver.

It blamed the failure on surging oil prices at the time, as well as its decision to buy aircraft rather than lease them.

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