AirAsia cleared for routes to the US, London, and Frankfurt
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AirAsia cleared for routes to the US, London, and Frankfurt

MALAYSIA’S AirAsia X on Tuesday said it has become Asia’s first low-cost carrier to receive approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to any destination within the United States.

The long-haul airline in a statement said it gained approval from the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority and that it was considering flights to several U.S. states including Hawaii.

“Our expansion up until now has concentrated on Asia, Australasia and the Middle East, and we are excited about our first foray into an entirely new market as we look beyond Asia Pacific,” Group Chief Executive Officer Kamarudin Meranun said in the statement.

The announcement comes a day after Emirates Airline the world’s largest long-haul carrier, said it would add a U.S. route. A U.S. airline lobby group said that move amounted to unfair competition because Gulf carriers received government subsidies. Gulf carriers deny receiving subsidies.

On top of that, the budget carrier is also resurrecting its London route after a suspension in 2012 due to high costs and small planes.

The London route will reconnect this summer with direct flights out of klia2, AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes told media last week.

Fernandes said, “I would like to offer [flights] for even less. Due to the low oil prices, we could even afford to set the airfare as low as €150 (about US$161).

“We are keen on attracting more Europeans to come to holiday in southeast Asia as well as to help Asians who wish to explore Europe. We see this as a mutual market.”

Meanwhile, tickets to Frankfurt are expected to cost just under €200 (about US$214).

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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