AirAsia X to link Bangkok, Japan

Malaysian long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X Bhd. said Monday it will launch international flights connecting Bangkok with Japan and, later, between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.

Capitalizing on strong demand expected for the routes between Japan and Bangkok, Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) will begin its new flights connecting Thailand's capital with Narita and Osaka Sept 1.

On Nov 21, AirAsia X will start offering service to and from Kuala Lumpur. The airline said it is planning to make the service daily next May from the initial four times per week as part of its strategic expansion in North Asia.

TAAX Chief Executive Officer Nadda Buranasiri said 50,000 promotional-fare seats will be offered at 2,990 baht from 11pm Monday until July 13 with passengers able to travel from Sept 1 until July 31, 2015.

He said the airline has tried to expand service to passengers from outlying provinces, letting them fly to Japan via Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, 453,600 Thais visiting Japan last year, up 74% from 2012. Over the first five months of 2014, 294,300 Thais arrived in Japan, up 62.3% from the same period in 2013. The increase came after Japan lifted visa requirements for Thais last July.

Thailand is also a popular destination for Japanese with 1.5 million visited Thailand in 2013, an increase of 11.9% from 2012.

AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer Azran Osman Rani said at a press conference in Tokyo that the new service "significantly strengthens our position as we are using Kuala Lumpur as a connecting hub to connect people in Japan to not only Southeast Asia but also...to Australia."

The Malaysian company began offering flights to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport in 2010 and services to Osaka in 2011. It increased its initial three weekly flights to Haneda to daily in 2012.

According to AirAsia X, it logged an average passenger load of 89% for the flights to and from Japan in the first half of this year and sales from its Japan routes accounted for more than 12% of the airline's total revenue in the first half of last year.

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