AirAsia X to Increase Tehran Flights
AirAsia X, the long-haul low-cost arm of budget carrier AirAsia, is adding more flights to Tehran from Kuala Lumpur six months after resuming its flight to the capital of Iran.
Arik De, the carrier's chief commercial head, said the airline had received positive response from travelers and seen a steady increase in the Kuala Lumpur-Tehran route load factor.
De said the airline had recorded an 80% average load factor on the route with strong forward bookings trend, especially toward Norouz (Iranian New Year starting March 21) celebrations in March, New Strait Times reported.
“We will raise frequency starting next month onward with four times weekly direct flights to Tehran from Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
The improved connectivity’s timing will also benefit from Malaysia’s plan to boost bilateral trade and investment ties with Iran.
Last month, Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the Cabinet had given its approval to embark on bilateral free-trade agreement talks with Iran to take advantage of the potential growth of two-way businesses since trade sanctions were lifted.
Bilateral trade so far has been small with about $700 million in 2015. Malaysia hopes to boost exports to Iran, especially palm oil. Both the governments agreed during a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in October to double the trade volume.
Mustapa said with a population of 80 million, Iran is one of the largest markets in the Persian Gulf region and already businesses were making a beeline to tap potential since sanctions were lifted in January last year.
De said almost a quarter of AirAsia X’s passengers travelled to Tehran via AirAsia’s FlyThru service from the airline’s long- and short-haul networks.
The airline resumed its direct flight to Tehran on June 21 last year after suspending the destination in October 2012 following sanctions against Iran.