AirAsia X says new California flights could begin as soon as 2021

Sep 23, 2019

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Malaysian low-cost giant AirAsia X continues to plan for new flights to California as it looks to build on its service to Hawaii.

The airline plans to serve California’s Bay Area — either Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC) airports — from Japan beginning in 2021, an AirAsia X official told TPG at the World Routes conference in Adelaide, Australia, on Monday.

They declined to specify which Japanese airport the new routes will originate from, except that it will not necessarily be Osaka Kansai (KIX) where the airline’s current Honolulu (HNL) flights depart.

For California, AirAsia X would operate a higher-weight version of the Airbus A330-900 that is due in 2021, the representative said. The aircraft will be capable of flights of around 14 hours.

Related: AirAsia X A330 Premium Flatbed — Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur

The airline has expressed interest in serving the U.S. mainland for years, though it has yet to follow through. In 2012, AirAsia X rolled out one of its Airbus A340 jets painted in the colors of the Oakland Raiders NFL football team at a press event at Oakland International Airport. AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said the Oakland flights were being considered, though that never materialized.

AirAsia X began flights to Honolulu several days a week in 2017, and expanded the route to daily service last fall, according to Diio by Cirium schedule data.

In 2018, Fernandes, one of the industry’s more-colorful CEOs, affirmed plans to serve California but suggested Los Angeles — not a Bay Area airport — as the likely destination.

Now, the San Francisco Bay Area seems to be back at the top of AirAsia X’s wish list. Flights to the region would make AirAsia X the first long-haul low-cost carrier to serve the U.S. mainland from Asia. While the segment has grown in fits and starts across the Atlantic, no Asia-Pacific LCC offers a U.S. flight beyond Hawaii.

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Honolulu is served by both AirAsia X and Australia’s Jetstar Airways, Diio schedules show.

AirAsia X service to the Bay Area will likely be a win for bargain-seekers by placing pressure on fares in the market. Google Flights show round-trip fares as low as $876 between San Francisco and Tokyo this fall. By comparison, the LCC charges as little as $300 for one-way tickets in economy to Honolulu.

All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL) and United Airlines are the only carriers flying between the Bay Area and Japan today. ANA serves San Francisco and San Jose from Tokyo Narita (NRT); JAL serves San Francisco from Tokyo Haneda (HND); and United serves Haneda, Narita and Osaka from San Francisco, according to Diio.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus.

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