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AirAsia X orders 42 new long-haul Airbus jets

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AirAsia X orders 42 new long-haul Airbus jets | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: AirAsia’s new generation A330neo will be based at Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport – Bernama

AirAsia X, the long-haul part of the AirAsia Group, has now finalised a major order with Airbus for 12 more A330-900 and 30 A321XLR aircraft.

The contract was signed today by Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, chairman of AirAsia X, along with Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, in KL, in the presence of Mahathir Mohamad, the Malaysian PM.

Tony Fernandes, the CEO of the AirAsia Group, says the two aircraft are the perfect equipment for long-haul, low-cost operations.

“This order reaffirms our selection of the A330neo as the most efficient choice for our future wide-body fleet. In addition, the A321XLR offers the longest flying range of any single aisle aircraft and will enable us to introduce services to new destinations.”

Aziz says the order showed the airlines’ commitment to longer haul air travel.

“This will move our long-haul service sectors up to a higher level and allow AirAsia X to look at expanding beyond the eight-hour flight radius, such as to Europe for example.”

The new contract increases the number of A330neo (new engine option) aircraft ordered by AirAsia X to 78, reaffirming the carrier’s status as the largest airline customer for the type. Meanwhile, the A321XLR (long range) order sees the wider AirAsia Group strengthen its position as the world’s largest airline customer for the A320 “family”, having now ordered a total of 622 aircraft.

AirAsia X currently operates a fleet of 36 A330-300s on services to points within the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. In addition, in August the first A330neo joined the fleet of AirAsia’s Bangkok-based long haul affiliate, AirAsia X Thailand. The aircraft is the first of two leased A330neos joining the airline’s Thai affiliate by the end of the year.

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World

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric

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US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | The Thaiger

Over recent weeks US Navy ships and Air Force bombers have undertaken high profile missions aimed at telegraphic a clear message to China that the US military intends to maintain a presence in the region. The US is ramping up military pressure on China and tensions in the South China Sea. It’s accusing Beijing of leveraging the Covid-19 pandemic to extend its sphere of influence around the region.

The US Navy Pacific Fleet has also taken the unusual step of announcing that all of its submarines in the region were at sea conducting operations “in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region amidst the pandemic caused by the coronavirus.”

But the US-China tensions around the South China Sea, which extends from southern China, Vietnam’s east and southern coast, the Philippines and Malaysia, didn’t just start with the coronavirus. Tensions have been building for many years.

The military mobilisation comes as the US increases pressure diplomatically with US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continuing their public rhetoric blaming Beijing for failing to stem the virus’s spread and not being transparent during the early stages of the outbreak. The Pentagon is now going further accusing China of exploiting the pandemic to gain military and economic advantages by expanding its influence over the South China Sea.

The US Navy Capt. Michael Kafka, a spokesperson for the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command, has repeated the White House narrative.

“The People’s Republic of China is attempting to use the regional focus on Covid to assertively advance its own interests.”

US Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of the Air Force Global Strike command, overseeing the bomber force in the area, ratcheted up the sabre-rattling even further.

“We have the capability and capacity to provide long range fires anywhere, anytime and can bring overwhelming firepower, even during the pandemic,”

At the end of April the US Navy again challenged China’s claims to the waters surrounding the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, contested islands that the US has long said China is using to house weapons and military facilities.

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | News by The Thaiger
The South China Sea remains a crucial strategic location, home to some of the busiest shipping routes in the world as well as potential natural resource deposits such as oil and gas. There are multiple claimants to many of the islands and territories, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan. And China.

China has constructed outposts on man-made islands in the disputed area in recent years, installing military facilities and missile storage as part of a bid to exert control over the strategic waterways, according to US officials.

Last Wednesday a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS McCampbell, transited the Taiwan Strait. The US routinely traverses the Taiwan Strait but the Chinese military views the strategic waterway, separating China from Taiwan, as a priority area and often shadows US vessels that sail through the area.

Lt. Anthony Junco, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, says Wednesday’s action was nothing unusual.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | News by The Thaiger

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Malaysia

Border patrols nab 29 Thais sneaking back from Malaysia

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Border patrols nab 29 Thais sneaking back from Malaysia | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Border patrol police arrested 29 Thai nationals for illegal entry yesterday, as they were attempting to sneak over the Malaysian border into the Sabayoi district of Thailand’s southern Songkhla province, mostly heavily wooded forest.

The group – 18 men and 11 women – rode through forests on 15 motorbikes to avoid immigration checkpoints. They were intercepted by police on a routine patrol.

The 29 were identified as residents of Tambons Ban Na and Sakom of the province’s Jana district. Most of them had been workerssd in Thai restaurants in Malaysia, but were returning to Thailand out of desperation after the businesses closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Officials said they would check their backgrounds to determine if any of them are the subjects of outstanding arrest warrants.

All 29 were immediately sent to a state quarantine facility.

Thais attempting to return illegally has become an increasing problem since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Malaysia

Malaysian authorities round up migrant workers over Covid-19 fears

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Malaysian authorities round up migrant workers over Covid-19 fears | The Thaiger

After the recent debacle in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysian authorities are locating undocumented migrants to contain potential spread of Covid-19. Already around 700 migrants and refugees have been detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia does not formally recognise refugees, regarding them as illegal migrants.

Singapore’s recent surge in Covid-19 case numbers has been mainly from migrant workers living in cramped accommodations.

Those taken into custody include young children and Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Raids occurred last night in downtown KL where thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers live.

The raids and detentions are aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas as travel restrictions remain imposed to contain the virus.

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador told Bernama that “We cannot allow them to move freely… as it will be difficult for us to track them down if they leave identified locations.”

“Those detained would be placed at a single location for monitoring until the movement curbs were lifted.”

There’s been a wave of public anger and xenophobia in Malaysia over recent days about the presence of foreign migrant workers, particularly aimed at Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees. The accusations, largely unfounded, include them spreading the virus and “being a burden on state resources”.

Malaysia has around 2 million registered foreign workers but authorities estimate many more are living in the Southeast Asian country without proper documents.

Meanwhile former Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad has joined the chorus condemning the rejection of Rohingya refugees, saying the authorities’ recent decision to turn away a boat carrying some 400 of them was “inhumane”. Thousands of Rohingya ‘boat people’ take to the sea each year as a way of escaping the attacks from the Tatmadaw, the Burmese militia, and persecution from Buddhist-majority Burmese.

In a blog post, Mahathir said the authorities should instead have given them food and fuel so that they could make their way to another country or return to Myanmar.

SOURCE: Reuters

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