AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of the AirAsia Group, has placed a firm order with Airbus for 25 more A330-300s.
The contract is the largest Airbus A330 firm order received by the manufacturer in a single agreement and increases AirAsia X’s total firm orders for the type to 51 aircraft.
The 25 new Airbus A330-300 widebodies ordered by AirAsia X will be supplemented by another six A330-300s leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). AirAsia X signed the lease contract with ILFC on August 9, 2012.
On December 16, Europe-based lessor AerCap (which is headquartered in the Netherlands and has always had a particularly close relationship with Airbus, often acting as a strategic lessor for the company’s aircraft types) agreed to buy a majority share in ILFC from former outright owner American International Group.
The contract for AirAsia X’s new A330-300 order was signed in Paris on December 18 by Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, and Fabrice Brégier, president and CEO of Airbus. The signing was witnessed by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, co-founder and director of AirAsia X.
AirAsia X will start taking delivery of its newly ordered A330-300s in 2015 as it begins a major expansion of its network across the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Airbus, the new order includes the latest extended-range versions of the A330-300, providing the carrier with the ability to offer non-stop service to destinations in Europe or one-stop service to the U.S.
“This order stamps our firm intent to dominate the long-haul, low-cost carrier space and marks the next phase in our development to be the undisputed global market leader,” said Fernandes. “Our commitment would allow us to remain as the youngest widebody fleet age in the region at under five years throughout 2019, with corresponding competitive fuel efficiency, reliability and cabin comfort benefits.”
Fernades added: “The aircraft orders would further cater to our expansion plans in Malaysia, and the proposed new Thai AirAsia X hub as well as other long-haul ventures planned across Asia. The developments will complement the AirAsia Group’s long-term vision of developing its presence in key markets in Asia and strengthen the connectivity between [the AirAsia] long-haul and short-haul low-cost network.”
AirAsia X currently operates 16 Airbus A330-300s on services linking its Kuala Lumpur base to destinations in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific.
In addition to A330s, the carrier also has 10 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft on order for future delivery.
The latest order from AirAsia X further consolidates the position of the AirAsia Group as one of Airbus’ largest airline customers. In total the AirAsia Group has now ordered 536 aircraft from Airbus.
These include 475 Airbus A320-family single-aisle aircraft for AirAsia’s short-haul operations, based at Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila; plus the 51 A330s and 10 A350 XWBs for AirAsia X.
To date, Airbus has won orders for more than 1,280 A330s of various versions. More than 1,000 A330s have been delivered and the aircraft is currently flying with almost 100 operators worldwide.