Soaring costs and low demand have forced AirAsia X, Malaysia’s long-haul, low-cost airline, to end flights to Europe and India. In Europe, flights to London and Paris will cease operations while in India services to Delhi and Mumbai will come to an end.

AirAsia X, the Malaysian low-cost airline, has decided to withdraw flights to Europe and India because of high fuel prices and weak demand.

AirAsia X, known for offering cheap flight tickets, will operate its last flight from London Gatwick on March 31. AirAsia X is also putting an end to its services to Paris, with the last flight taking off on March 30.

Daily flights to Delhi will be suspended with the last flight on 22 March. Also in March, flights to the Indian capital will be reduced to four weekly services. Mumbai’s four weekly services will be suspended, with the last service on 31 January.

AirAsia X launched the London route in 2009, Mumbai and Delhi in 2010 and Paris in 2011.

AirAsia X will offer alternative travel options at no additional cost to travellers with bookings after the last flight dates. All affected travellers will receive an e-mail that will include a listing of different options available to them. These alternatives will include full refunds, reroutes to other AirAsia X destinations, or a move to an alternative carrier where available.

AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said the move would allow it to focus on core markets of Australasia, China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea where it has built up stable, lucrative routes within an infrastructure that can sustain economical services.

“We intend to open up new routes within these markets, as well as add frequencies on existing routes, he said in a statement.

Europe (London and Paris)

AirAsia X said soaring taxes in Europe had made it hard to offer cheap air tickets. The long haul budget airline also blamed the weakening European economy, hurt by the eurozone debt crisis.

Azran Osman-Rani said: “The continued high jet fuel prices and the weakening demand for air travel from Europe, brought about by the current economic situation together with exorbitant government taxes, have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low cost flights between Asia and Europe, compromising our ability to offer the low fares AirAsia X is known for.”

“The implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in UK, which will rise yet again in April 2012 has forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe,” he added.

Flights to India – Mumbai and New Delhi

Apart from steep increase in costs at Delhi and Mumbai airports, the low budget carrier cited visa restrictions between India and Malaysia as the cause to discontinue flights to Delhi and Mumbai.

“As for Delhi and Mumbai, the continued visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges have resulted in a structure not conducive to the low-cost model,” Azran Osman-Rani said in a statement.

With airports in Delhi and Mumbai being modernized extensively, a part of the cost will be recovered from the airlines and travellers.

“The airport and handling costs in New Delhi and Mumbai are already more expensive than even airports in Australia, and the authorities have just approved a massive 280% increase in airport fees effective April 2012,” the budget carrier said in its press release.

Travel experts in India believe that the pulling out of the discount carrier from the country could potentially hit tourism to Malaysia as heaps of Indian tourists opt for cheap flight tickets, which will now perhaps become few and far between.

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