Budget airline AirAsia to start Paris flights

Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia yesterday confirmed it will soon start a service to Paris after winning the necessary landing rights, a top official said.

The approval will allow the airline to fly to Orly Airport in southern Paris, its second route in Europe after Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier began a London service in March.

"It is one of the routes that will add to our plan of global expansion. We are happy that the route has been given," AirAsia deputy chief executive officer Kamarudin Meranun said.

The approval was announced by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the Malaysian media in Paris at the end of his four-day visit to France late Wednesday.

According to the New Straits Times website, Najib said the decision was conveyed to him by French President Nicholas Sarkozy during their meeting at Elysee Palace on Wednesday.

Kamarudin said the airline will soon start talks with French civil aviation authorities to iron out the details.

He said the route would be operated by the carrier's long-haul arm AirAsia X but it was not yet known when the airline would begin the service or how many flights per week it would offer.

Despite the global economic downturn the carrier saw second quarter net profits surge to 139.2 million ringgit (A$45.4 million) from 9.4 million ringgit a year ago, due to higher passenger numbers and lower fuel costs.