Gatwick is in line for the return of Far East long-haul carrier AirAsia X after it was awarded air traffic rights by Malaysia’s aviation commission to operate nine weekly return flights from Kuala Lumpur. The airline operated a short-lived service in 2012, transferred from Stansted.
For the Gatwick route, AirAsia X is expected to dry-lease two Boeing 777-300ERs, scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of the year. It originally intended to use the A330-900neo but delivery of this model has been delayed to 2019.
AirAsia X ended European operations in 2012, blaming high fuel prices, taxes and weak travel demand. At the time it operated A340-300s, now retired, to serve Paris Orly as well as Stansted and Gatwick.
Chief executive Tony Fernandes has been quoted in the Thai press indicating his local subsidiary, Thai AirAsia X, may also launch direct flights between Bangkok and Frankfurt this summer. Fernandes also owns the struggling Championship soccer side QPR and sports car manufacturer Caterham Cars.