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AirAsia CEO looks to link Japan with US, Europe

Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of Malaysian budget airline AirAsia Group, speaks during an interview in Tokyo, on Aug. 16, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Malaysian budget airline AirAsia Group is aiming to start long-haul flights linking Japan with the United States and Europe, its chief executive said Thursday.

    While seeing chances of airport expansion in Japan for low-cost carriers, Tony Fernandes also underscored that Japanese regulators tend to take too long in allowing airlines to open new routes.

    "I think Japan is probably the most progressive in terms of LCC development," Fernandes said in an interview with Kyodo News. "Japan is 12 hours away from the West Coast of America and 10 hours from London, so we believe it has huge potential."

    AirAsia is planning to operate flights from Southeast Asia to the United States and Europe by way of Japanese airports outside Tokyo such as Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture, where the airline's Japanese arm is based, he said.

    Using the so-called beyond rights, the group has already provided services between Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu via Osaka. It also aims to add Chinese and South Korean cities in services to and from Japan.

    The airline has ordered 100 Airbus A330neo passenger jets and is planning to introduce them on new long-haul flights, he said.

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