AirAsia X (D7, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) has signed a medium-term charter agreement with logistics firm GEODIS to operate scheduled cargo services between Kuala Lumpur Int'l and Hong Kong Int'l, Chennai, Shanghai Pudong, and Sydney Kingsford Smith.

The Malaysian long-haul low-cost carrier stressed that the agreement, which will initially run for six months through June 20, 2022, and may be extended, provides a vital financial lifeline at a time when passenger demand is non-existent. It also stressed that before the pandemic, cargo revenue accounted for 4% of its total inflows. Thanks to the agreement with GEODIS, the airline expects to increase this share over tenfold to 40-50%.

"Air cargo rates will continue to remain robust as long as planes remain grounded. We intend to capitalise on this opportunity for as long as it lasts," AirAsia X chief executive Benyamin Ismail said.

The agreement will also stimulate cargo growth in new markets as AirAsia X and GEODIS will develop Kuala Lumpur into a transhipment hub with onward connections by road and air to Malaysia, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Singapore.

AirAsia X has operated non-scheduled charters on behalf of GEODIS during the COVID-19 pandemic. The LCC does not operate any passenger flights at this moment and exclusively uses its eighteen A330-300s for cargo-only charters. The aircraft have not been converted into makeshift freighters, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

The airline said its deal with GEODIS was "the first of many to be completed in the coming months".

GEODIS does not have its own certificated carrier per se and therefore relies on sourcing air capacity from established airlines. In September 2021, it announced its first-ever long-term exclusive CMI deal with United Kingdom's Titan Airways (ZT, London Stansted), which operates an ACV!A33030P for and on behalf of GEODIS. The Airbus freighter is itself ex-Air Asia X inventory.