By The Nation
AirAsia X, the long haul unit of AirAsia Group, has finalised an order with Airbus for an additional 12 A330-900 and 30 A321XLR aircraft, the company announced in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday.
“This order reaffirms our selection of the A330neo as the most efficient choice for our future widebody fleet,” AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said on Friday. “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 leading market position in this fast-growing sector.”
AirAsia X currently operates a fleet of 36 A330-300s in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. The first of two leased A330neo planes joined the fleet of AirAsia’s Bangkok-based long haul affiliate, AirAsia X Thailand, earlier this month. The other aircraft will join the airline’s Thai affiliate by the end of the year.
“Today’s [Friday] announcement is testament to our confidence and commitment to longer haul air travel,” AirAsia X chairman Rafidah Aziz said. “This is the future of our long-haul operations. 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.”
The new contract increases the number of A330neo aircraft ordered by AirAsia X to 78, reaffirming the carrier’s status as the largest airline customer for the type. Meanwhile, the A321XLR 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, according to a company statement.
The A330neo is a true new generation aircraft building on the A330’s success and leveraging on A350 XWB technology. It incorporates the “highly efficient” new generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and a new higher span 3D optimised wing with new sharklets. Together these advances offer a significant reduction in fuel consumption of 25 per cent compared to older generation aircraft of similar size, the company said.
The A330 is one of the most popular widebody families, having received more than 1,700 orders from more than 120 customers.
“AirAsia X has been the pioneer of the long haul low cost model in the Asia-Pacific region,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said. “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 farther than ever before.”