AirAsia X cleared for US flights, 1st Asian budget carrier to get nod

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's AirAsia X Bhd AIRX.KL said it had become Asia's first low-cost carrier to receive approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to any destination within the United States.

The long-haul airline in a statement said it gained approval from the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and that it was considering flights to several U.S. states, including Hawaii.

“Our expansion up until now has concentrated on Asia, Australasia and the Middle East, and we are excited about our first foray into an entirely new market as we look beyond Asia Pacific,” Group Chief Executive Officer Kamarudin Meranun said in the statement on Tuesday.

The announcement comes a day after Emirates Airline [EMIRA.UL], the world’s largest long-haul carrier, said it would add a U.S. route. A U.S. airline lobby group said that move amounted to unfair competition because Gulf carriers received government subsidies.

Gulf carriers deny receiving subsidies.

AirAsia X also said it was mulling the resumption of flights on its London route. The airline suspended its London flights in March 2012 due to high taxes, but has held on to hopes of continuing the route since.

“At the moment we are looking at resuming our London routes and are working towards the necessary approvals,” a spokesman told Reuters in an email.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar