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Virgin Group Buys Stake in AirAsia X

Billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group on Friday purchased a 20% stake in Malaysia's long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X, in an alliance that could transform the face of Asian aviation.

Virgin's purchase of the stake in Fly Asian Xpress (FAX), operator of the new airline, was announced in a company statement. It did not say how much the stake is worth.

FAX is owned by the founder of the region's largest low-cost carrier AirAsia.

AirAsia X has been granted rights to fly to Stansted airport near London and to Australia's Gold Coast, with first flights to Australia to begin in late September or early October, the statement said.

Virgin's investment in Malaysia underscores Branson's confidence in Asia's booming low-cost airline business and formally links Asia's leading budget airline with one of Europe's key players.

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