Malaysian long haul low cost airline AirAsia X is planning to dry lease two 777-300ERs from 2Q2017 to support the resumption of services to London Gatwick in Jun-2017. Its joint venture airline in Thailand is also aiming to launch long haul services to Europe in summer 2017 with a new route to Frankfurt, using the group’s existing A330-300ceo fleet.
The lease of second hand 777-300ERs enables AirAsia X to accelerate the relaunch of flights between its main home market of Malaysia and Europe. Previously AirAsia X was intending to wait for the delivery of the A330-900neo to resume long haul flights, which it last operated in 2012 with inefficient A340-300s.
The group was initially aiming to start operating A330-900neos from 2018, but first delivery has been delayed to early 2019. Short term leases on two 777-300ERs therefore give AirAsia X at least an 18 month jump on resuming London – a strategically important market.
However, the 777-300ERs come with high risks and costs, particularly given the current market conditions and the relatively low density full service airline configuration that AirAsia X inherits with the aircraft.
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