AirAsia X still in talks to start Paris route: CEO
Long-haul budget airline AirAsia X said Thursday it has no plans to begin flights to Paris this year, according to a top official, after French reports it had been given a slot at Orly Airport.
French media had reported that the carrier, which will operate the route after its affiliate AirAsia won landing rights in October last year, has been given a slot at the southern Paris airport starting from next month.
"We are not looking at flying to Paris on October 31," AirAsia X's chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani told AFP.
"It is still premature (to set a date), it is definitely not this year," he said, adding that the carrier was still in talks with the French authorities on "operational matters".
French newspaper La Tribune, without specifying its source, reported that AirAsia has been given a slot to operate the Kuala Lumpur-Paris route twice a week from October 31.
The paper said the airline however intends to start these flights in 2011 and was targeting to fly four times a week.
Approval for the carrier to land in Paris was announced by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a visit to Paris last year after a meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
It will be the Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier second route in Europe after it began a London service in March last year.
An affiliate of regional low-cost carrier AirAsia and Virgin Group, AirAsia X was launched in January 2007. AirAsia and AirAsia X have common shareholders, including AirAsia founder and CEO Tony Fernandes.
The airline currently has eight aircraft and will have 11 by December. It has also placed an order for 17 Airbus A330s and 10 A340s.
© 2010 AFP