Delhi, Auckland, Tehran, and Mauritius. All recent bold moves from Tony Fernandes and Air Asia X. Now they add Istanbul and Barcelona to that list of innovative new destinations for the pioneer long haul low cost airline of Asia.
While not yet officially announced, we do have availability showing and a flight number (D7 52) for an Istanbul-Barcelona tag on service from Kuala Lumpur starting in late October:
It definitely is an interesting turn of events for Air Asia X, who exited Europe by ending their non-stop KL to London Stansted service citing high oil prices. But much has changed from those days. Most significantly oil prices have since tanked (though I’m not sure how D7 have hedged), and the airline has introduced a factory fresh A330-300 fleet that will prove to be much more fuel efficient than the second hand ex Air Canada A340-300s that were then flying D7’s Europe network.
Another noteworthy development is the fact that London isn’t (yet) on the cards; most industry analysts presumed that if and when Air Asia X were to return to Europe, London would once again be the primary focus. Yet we’re seeing the airline take another innovative step in making their long haul low cost model work by introducing this unique routing through to Spain via Turkey from Malaysia.
It will definitely be a challenge what with Singapore Airlines offering non stop flights to Barcelona right next door, but if they can funnel some of their Australia-Europe traffic through this new route and nail down some favorable interline agreements with Turkish Airlines and Iberia they will have their bases covered with oneworld and Star Alliance members looking for a cheap route to Europe.
Definitely a space to watch.