Air Asia X axes only UK route

Marion Dakers
EUROPE’S laws and taxes on airlines were brought into sharp focus yesterday, as routes were scrapped and Ryanair hiked its charges in response to regulations.

Low-cost carrier Air Asia X ditched its Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur flight as part of its withdrawal from unprofitable routes over the next year.

Its only UK route, which was introduced in 2009, will stop in March alongside flights from Paris and Delhi. Flights from Mumbai will be scrapped at the end of January.

Air Asia X blamed the UK’s air passenger duty, the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) and higher fuel costs for the closures.

“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 Air Asia X is known for,” said chief executive Azran Osman-Rani.

Gatwick Airport said in a statement: “We are very disappointed to be losing Air Asia X... We believe the Treasury must pay far closer attention to the impact of this issue as the decision by Air Asia X is clear evidence that the burden of additional taxation in all its forms is a material consideration for long haul airlines flying to the UK.”

And budget airline Ryanair said it plans to charge all its customers an extra 25p per flight to pay for what it calls the “eco-looney” ETS.

Ryanair’s charge, which will be introduced from Tuesday, will help offset the €15m-€20m that the firm claims the levy will cost it this year.

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