AAX resumes flights to Busan, expects recovery

AirAsia X (AAX) announces further expansion into South Korea with exclusive direct services from Kuala Lumpur to Busan, connecting the largest coastal city in the country with Southeast Asia and beyond starting today. (Third from left) Datuk Fam Lee Ee, AirAsia X Board of Director; Benyamin Ismail, AirAsia X CEO; Son Taewook, Busan Metropolitan City Tourism Promotion Division Director; Shaharuddin Yahya, Tourism Malaysia Korea Director; and Park Jae Hee, Gimhae International Airport Director General at the AirAsia X inaugural flight celebration press conference from Kuala Lumpur to Busan at Gimhae International Airport in Busan today.

BUSAN: AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) plans to recover its flight frequency and passenger volume to and from Busan, South Korea, to pre-pandemic levels.

AAX chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail said while the group is looking at three-weekly flights to and from Busan with an annual passenger volume of 150,000, it hopes to return to pre-Covid 19 levels by the end of this year.

This entails a flight frequency of seven times a week with a passenger volume of 220,000 to and from Busan.

“As the airline’s 15th destination and the second in South Korea, Busan plays a vital role in stimulating new demand and strengthening AAX market leadership in north Asia through providing best value fares and driving greater competition in the market since the inception of the route in 2013,” Benyamin said at Gimhae International Airport yesterday on the resumption of AAX’s flight to Busan.

Benyamin added South Korea is one of the most profitable routes for the group, with a market share of up to 15%.

“We are excited to restart this historically popular route and proud to be the only airline in Malaysia operating direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Busan, a city of many tourism drawcards.

“Together with our existing route to Seoul, today’s announcement further strengthens our foothold in South Korea and increases our overall capacity to north Asia – our fastest growing market,” he said.

At present AAX is operating on seven aircraft and is expecting 10 more in the upcoming months.

According to Benyamin, revenge travel is on the rise.

“For AAX, although fares have gone up by 40% to 50% but they are still 30% to 40% cheaper than every other airline in the market.

“The hike in airfares of some airlines has gone up by 100%. Nevertheless, people are still willing to pay which reflects a sustained demand for travelling.

“The most important aspect of the business is related to costing. AAX is still able to provide lower fares, because we could achieve efficient costing in our operations.

“We have already achieved a turnaround, looking at our performance in the previous quarter,” he said

In terms of opening routes to China, Benyamin said the low-cost carrier would be cautious and continue to monitor the situation there.

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