Airlines of the Malaysian AirAsia Group are temporarily reducing or entirely suspending their flight operations amid the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
Malaysia-based AirAsia, the mainline of the largest South East Asian low-cost airline group, has announced that it is pausing all its flight services. This is set to come into effect on March 28 and last for more than three weeks until April 21. Meanwhile, the company says that its subsidiary for long-haul flights, AirAsia X, is suspending most but not all flights.
AirAsia India, the newest branch of the AirAsia brand, has suspended all operations since Wednesday, March 25, for a duration of three weeks. This is due to a government-issued nation-wide lockdown in the country. The airline is a joint-venture between Indian Tata Sons (holding of Tata Group) and AirAsia, and currently only operates domestic flights.
The situation looks similar on the Philippines, where Philippines AirAsia has cancelled its flights from March 20 until April 14 because of ‘community quarantine’ in part of the island nation.
Thai AirAsia on the other hand has not given up entirely and is still operating domestic services at reduced frequencies. However, international flights have been suspended since March 22 until April 25. Its long-haul arm, Thai AirAsia X, which is a joint-venture of AirAsia Thailand and Malaysian AirAsia X, stopped flying on March 16. The carrier says it would resume its route to Seoul, South Korea, on April 20, while other routes remain cancelled for a three-month period.
South of the group’s home country, Indonesia AirAsia is continuing to operate both domestic and international flights, but at reduced frequencies.
These major suspensions and reductions come in wake of the current Coronavirus crisis. Many airlines around the world are battling with extreme drops in demand, as more and more governments (i.e. India in the case of this airline) are imposing temporary travel restrictions, making air travel essentially impossible.
While AirAsia Group has not published specific numbers on how many aircraft are or will be grounded, it is highly likely that more than 200 will be temporarily taken off service. All airlines combined operate an all-Airbus fleet of more than 280 aircraft, with Malaysian AirAsia having the largest share at almost 100 A320 family aircraft.
The South East Asian low-cost airline empire is also the second largest single customer of the Airbus A320neo family, with almost 400 aircraft orders. It is only beaten by Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo, which has a total of 730 orders for the A320neo and A321neo. Furthermore, AirAsia X and its branches in Thailand and Indonesia, is the largest customer of the Airbus A330neo. The group received its first A330-900neo in August last year.
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Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.