LONDON: UK-based airlines Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have denied reports earlier this week that they are to form an alliance with Malaysia-headquartered low-cost carrier Air Asia.

The rumour was fuelled by a report on Monday in South-east Asian newspaper The Star [WARC News: 02-Jan-06]. It named both the UK carriers in relation to the imminent launch of the world's "first global budget airline network".

However, it seems the report was little more than speculation, based on a remark made by Air Asia ceo Tony Fernandes that a "huge announcement" was planned for today, Friday. It is now believed it refers to a budget flights deal between Air Asia and another South-east Asian carrier.

Meantime, the UK duo were swift to refute the tale. "We are not joining any alliance," insisted an easyJet spokesman. Harmonized his counterpart at Virgin: "It's nothing to do with us. Air Asia clearly have their own plans and it is up to them to announce them."

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff