Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is to take a 20 percent stake in AirAsia’s long-haul budget carrier, Air Asia X. Founder and Director of AirAsia X, Tony Fernandes, stated, ” AirAsia X aims to dramatically expand the market for long-haul, value-based travel - both leisure and business related, and reinforce Malaysia’s status as a low cost aviation pioneer, through achieving an industry leading Cost per ASK (available seat kilometre) of less than 2.0 US cents. AirAsia X will simplify the current long-haul product and provide highly affordable, value-for-money travel without sacrificing core passenger comforts essential over longer flight times.”
Dato’ Seri Kalimullah Hassan, Chairman of AirAsia X, said, “The Virgin stamp of approval on the AirAsia X business model from Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs in pioneering new business models, is a great start for AirAsia X. Building on AirAsia’s lead, AirAsia X is uniquely positioned to be a first in ‘truly low cost, long haul’ service and to revolutionize the global aviation industry. We believe AirAsia X will help consolidate Kuala Lumpur’s position as the region’s low cost carrier hub and as such, we continue to be grateful to the Malaysian Government for its continued support.”
“Having leased an Airbus 330 and confirmed orders for 15 new A330-300s, AirAsia X is well on its way to commence its operations in the fourth quarter of 2007 with non-stop services from its Low Cost Carrier Terminal hub in Kuala Lumpur to points in Asia Pacific which we will announce in due course,” added Dato Seri Kallimulah.
Sir Richard Branson confirmed his investment in AirAsia X, “Tony Fernandes and his team have had phenomenal success with Air Asia on the short haul and we believe they will have the same success with AirAsia X on the long haul. I am thrilled to be able to support them in this venture and look forward to seeing low cost long haul travel being opened up from their base in Malaysia. I wish Tony and his team every success and cannot wait to join them on an AirAsia flight in the near future.”
AirAsia X also took this opportunity to pay a tribute to the pioneer and founder of the low cost model, the late Sir Freddie Laker of Skytrain in Europe. Witnessing this significant naming ceremony was the son of the late British airline entrepreneur Mr. Freddie Allen Laker Jr, who signed the name “Semangat Sir Freddie” (Spirit of Sir Freddie) onto a model A330, representing the first AirAsia X aircraft.