For obvious reasons, it is highly unusual for a short-haul ULCC to handle widebody aircraft. But that is what the Malaysian branch of AirAsia is doing. It has been doing it for some period now, primarily domestically.
It has now revealed it’ll operate the widebody between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok Don Mueang, joining the previously announced route between Kuala Lumpur and Manila. Dhaka returns in July too.
AirAsia has one A330-300, registered 9M-VVA. The 7.5-year-old aircraft has 377 seats, with 365 in the economy (mainly in a 3-3-3 layout) and 12 in premium (not completely flat). As you’d expect, it was previously operated by AirAsia X (registered 9M-XXW). After serving with X until the summer of 2020, it entered AirAsia’s employment in December 2021.
It began regularly flying in January this year. While Kuala Lumpur-Kuching was its first scheduled route, other places, including Bangalore, Chennai, and Dhaka, have seen it, but always very temporarily.
Since then, however, it has primarily employed the aircraft domestically between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, some 1,013 miles (1,630km). That is way too far to be considered in the world’s shortest widebody routes category. Flightradar24 shows that on June 27th, for example, the A330 completed six sectors (three roundtrips) on the route, taking off from Malaysia’s capital at 05:17 and coming back at 02:18 the next morning. But it changes in July.
In the latest scheduling file, AirAsia has revealed it’ll use the A330 between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok Don Mueang. While it’ll run 1x daily, it won’t hang around.
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The widebody will have just 22 flights between July 10th and July 31st before reverting to the A320. In all, the airport pair is served 4x daily by the carrier. Operating the A330 means that seats for sale have risen from 31,680 to 36,432, up by 15%. The schedule is below, with all times local.
- Kuala Lumpur to Don Mueang: AK882, 11:00-12:15 (2h 15m block time)
- Don Mueang to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka
Between July 1st and 9th, AirAsia will deploy the A330 on a 1x daily basis between Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka. The aircraft will operate AK71, which leaves Malaysia at 20:30 and comes to Bangladesh at 22:25 local time. Returning, AK72 departs at 23:55 and arrives home at 05:50 the next day. With plenty of spare time, it’ll also operate 1x daily to/from Kota Kinabalu, leaving at 12:05 and returning at 18:55.
Things change from July 10th, with Dhaka offering a way to a 1x daily Manila service from the 10th to the 31st. Although the capital of the Philippines was told before, details are as follows:
- Kuala Lumpur to Manila: AK584, 18:00-22:10 (4h 10m)
- Manila to Kuala Lumpur: AK585, 23:25-03:20+1 (3h 55m
You’ll notice from the above schedules that the aircraft will fly Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur-Manila-Kuala Lumpur. At the moment, the plans and AirAsia’s booking engine is unclear on what, if anything, it’ll be doing in the morning.
Little else will fit with sufficient downtime – Kota Kinabalu will not – but it’ll still have a daily block time of 12h 30m, so that will likely be it until August.
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