AirAsia X, the long-haul unit of the AirAsia Group, has confirmed a firm order with Airbus for an additional batch of single and twin-aisle aircraft. In total, the Kuala Lumpur-based firm will acquire 12 Airbus A330-900 examples and and 30 A321XLRs.
The deal, signed on August 30 in the Malaysian capital, increases the number of A330neos ordered by AirAsia X to 78, cementing the low-cost carrier’s position as the largest airline customer for the new type. In a further indication of the power of the Airbus/AirAsia partnership, the A321XLR order sees the wider AirAsia Group solidify its status as the world’s largest airline customer for the A320 Family, having now ordered a staggering 622 examples.
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO commented: “This order reaffirms our selection of the A330neo as the most efficient choice for our future widebody 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. Together, these aircraft are perfect partners for long-haul low cost operations and will allow us to build further on our market leading position in this fast-growing sector.”
Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO added: “AirAsia X has been the pioneer of the long haul low cost model in the Asia-Pacific region. This new order for the A330neo and A321XLR is a true endorsement of the Airbus solution to meet mid-market demand with a combination of single aisle and widebody products. This powerful solution will provide AirAsia X with the lowest possible operating costs to expand its network and enable even more people to fly further than ever before.”
AirAsia X currently operates a fleet of 36 of the A330-300 variant on a host of services to points within the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to more sporadic operations to and from the Middle East.
Speaking as the news was announced, Rafidah Aziz, chairman of AirAsia X hinted that the new widebody arrivals could see the carrier extend its footprint further west, and potentially into southern Europe: “The A330neo’s revolutionary new features and modifications 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,” he revealed.
As part of the agreement, Airbus will expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) presence in Malaysia and establish the Airbus Malaysia Digital Initiative to “enhance the competitiveness of the local aerospace sector through the application of new digital technologies” as part of a wider scheme by the country’s government to transform Malaysia into a regional aerospace hub. The European manufacturer is also due to boost its commitment to the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC) – of which it is a founding member – by appointing an innovation technical director and increasing its funding for joint research programmes, including into the production of sustainable aviation biofuels in the southeast Asian nation.
The order comes just weeks after AirAsia’s Bangkok-based long haul affiliate, AirAsia X Thailand received its first A330-900. The airframe is the first of two leased neos joining the Thai affiliate before the end of 2019.