LONDON: AirAsia X's decision to axe its Kuala Lumpur-London route from March 30 is expected to affect over 14,000 Malaysian students pursuing their studies in the UK.
Since the route's inception in March 2009, the budget long-haul airline had been the first choice to many of them to travel home from the UK because of its affordable fares and good services.
Chairman of the United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students, Ahmad Syawal Hafriz Abdullah, said axing the routes would leave them with fewer choices, especially the ones that won't hit their pockets.
"Many of us look forward to join our families and loved ones especially during the festive seasons," he told Bernama.
A second-year student at the London School of Economics, said he hoped AirAsia X would lift the suspension and resume its flights to London soon.
Malaysian High Commissioner here, Datuk Zakaria Sulong, said Malaysian arrivals had increased following the introduction of AirAsia X to UK.
"These include Malaysian students in the UK who found going home during break affordable. "There is no alternative low-cost carrier from Kuala Lumpur.
The movements of the people between the two countries will be affected due to the closure," he said.
Besides London, AirAsia X also announced Thursday it would suspend flights to Paris on March 31 and Mumbai and New Delhi on Jan 31.
The reason behind this suspension, according AirAsia X, was the implementation of the emissions trading scheme and air passenger duty taxes in the UK, which was due to increase in April.
Other reasons cited were budgetary concerns influenced by the global economic uncertainty and escalating jet fuel prices despite AirAsia X recording load factors of over 80 per cent for its London and Paris flights in 2011.
AirAsia X had only shifted station from London Stansted International Airport to Gatwick Airport last October.
It had also become the joint jersey sponsor of London football club, Queens Park Rangers, shortly after founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandesacquired the club last August. - BERNAMA