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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 08:26 GMT
Long-haul budget airline unveiled
Air Asia X Hostesses line up next to launch poster for airline

Malaysian aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes has unveiled a new no-frills long-haul airline, Air Asia X.

The venture - a tie-up between Air Asia and Fly Asian Express (FAX) - will launch in July and fly to destinations in India, China and Europe.

The new airline aims to carry half a million passengers in its first year, Mr Fernandes said.

Air Asia X will also link up with other low-cost carriers to boost its connectivity and flights network.

Earlier this week, media reports had suggested the firm was hoping to form alliances with UK no-frills carrier Easyjet and Richard Branson's airline Virgin.

The two companies later denied the reports.

"Air Asia X's network will cover destinations which are more than four hours in flight duration from Kuala Lumpur, offering daily point-to-point frequencies to popular destinations in China, India and Europe," Air Asia and FAX said in a statement.

The two are working to put together a fleet of up to 20 aircraft for Air Asia X.

Cheap flights

Mr Fernandes told the BBC that Air Asia X flights to London would be priced from $80 to $450 (41 to 231) return.

He is the majority shareholder in FAX and the man behind Air Asia, which he turned into the most profitable low-cost carrier in Malaysia after he bought it as a bankrupt company in 2001.

FAX is a small airline covering remote routes in Malaysia.

Air Asia, which started with two planes, now has a fleet of 50 aircraft and flies to destinations in South East Asia and China.

The airline also plans to significantly increase its own fleet of aircraft.

Air Asia has ordered 100 A320 planes from Airbus and could now double that order, deputy chief executive Kamarudin Meranun said.

The group is expected to finalise its fleet expansion plan by the end of the month.

Tony Fernandes talks about his new airline, Air Asia X

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