MIAMI — Malaysian low-cost long haul carrier AirAsia X has filed schedules for its recently approved American expansion, with service on the Kuala Lumpur – Osaka Kansai – Honolulu route tentatively set to begin on June 28, 2017 according to the Airline Route blog. The route, which will be flown four times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, will be served with AirAsia X’s 377-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft (12Y+ / 365 Y). It also comes just two weeks after AirAsia X won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to serve the United States, and positions AirAsia X as the first non European low cost carrier (LCC) to offer long haul flights to the US and the second LCC to offer transoceanic service to Hawaii this decade after Allegiant Air.
AirAsia X is the long haul arm of Southeast Asian LCC powerhouse AirAsia Berhad, which doubles as Asia’s largest single country LCC. The broader AirAsia Group is one of the world’s largest LCC airline groups period, and has had long haul aspirations for nearly a decade. To date, however, most of AirAsia X’s success has been in the medium haul sector. Outside of flights to Australia (a route that has multiple successful entrants) and Islamic traffic to Tehran, AirAsia X has not been able to make long haul flying work. Its services to London and Paris, flown with Airbus A340-300s, were an abject failure, being canceled in 2011. AirAsia X is set to try London again with the Boeing 777-300ER, but broadly speaking, routes of this type (i.e. to Honolulu) have not been their ilk.
Unlike the doomed London services, this time AirAsia X will be able to draw on fifth freedom traffic from a third country (in this case Japan) to help boost demand on the route. The standalone route from Kuala Lumpur to Osaka has been a success, and there is a large volume of origin and destination (O&D) traffic from Japan to Hawaii that AirAsia X will be able to draw upon. The Japan – Hawaii market is fiercely competitive, however, with Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Japan Airlines all offering nonstop service between Osaka and Honolulu. Volumetrically, AirAsia X may be able to fill its planes, but yields will be a challenge.