Time to pack your bags as Malaysian carrier AirAsia X received approval from the Federal Aviation Authority to travel to the U.S., making it the first Asian low-cost carrier to do so.
The approval allows the long-haul airline to offer flights to several destinations in the U.S., including Hawaii, as part of its route expansion plans, according to Reuters.
“Our expansion up until now has concentrated on Asia, Australasia and the Middle East, and we are excited about our first foray into an entirely new market as we look beyond Asia Pacific,” AirAsia Chairman Kamarudin Meranun said in a statement.
Founded by businessman Tony Fernandes, AirAsia spearheaded the budget airline trend in Southeast Asia, “opening various subsidiaries under the brand name” in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India, reported Condé Nast Traveler.
AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail told Routesonline at the World Routes air service development forum in Chengdu, China in September that all the new flight needs now is a regulatory rubber-stamping before it can start taking passengers in the first half of 2017.
The Malaysian budget carrier also plans to offer a four times weekly service during the summer and operate the route via Osaka, Japan.
AirAsia X operates services of Airbus A330-300s that discontinued flights to London and Paris in 2012 due to high taxes.
Travelers who want to book AirAsia X’s economy class must pay extra for meals and luggage, but it also offers a few premium options like “flatbeds”.
The safety reputation of AirAsia hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in December 2014 after one of its planes operated by an Indonesian affiliate crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo, killing all 162 passengers onboard.
Indonesian investigators blamed the pilot’s response to equipment breakdown.
AirlineRatings.com has since given AirAsia Indonesia two out of seven stars for safety, compared with AirAsia X which received six out of seven stars.
Image via Flickr / byeangel