23 April, 2007 ,KUALA LUMPUR: Tony Fernandes has taken the X-factor out of AirAsiaX, the low-cost long-haul airline which will begin operations in September this year.
The Air Asia CEO said yesterday that the previously announced name of AirAsiaX would in future be known as Air Asia long haul, although the slogan "Now Everyone Can Fly Xtra Long" would remain.
The fledgling low-cost, long haul airline is a owned by FAX, a private company under the control of directors Tony Fernades, Kamarudin Meranun and Raja Mohd Azmi. FAX has franchised the Air Asia brand from AirAsia Berhad.
Fernandes said management had considered giving the new airline names of "animals and insects" but the best brand it could possibly use was that of AirAsia.
"We have spent five years building a very successful AirAsia brand and we intend to use it," he said.
Fernandes said Air Asia had strengthened its management team and would "deal with all those animal airlines".
The Air Asia boss was speaking at a media conference to announce the US$175 million purchase of 10 Airbus A330-300s, with options of five additional aircraft.
The new aircraft will not arrive until September 2008 which will require AirAsia long haul to lease similar aircraft for its September 2007 launch.
Fernandes said the new operation would be "mean, lean and very long haul".
"I want to emphasis that we will be the world´s first truly low-cost, long haul airline," he said.
He said the Airbus A330-300 was the ideal aircraft for the job. "The A330 will be the backbone of the fleet for a very long time to come."
John Leahy, Airbus chef operating office-customers, said, "This (order) is another confirmation that the A330 currently is the right aircraft for medium to long range operations in the middle of the market."
Leahy said AirAsia´s cost of operating the aircraft would be "an unheard of 2.1 cents per seat kilometre".