AirAsia X sticks with Airbus after window shopping at Boeing

SEPANG: AirAsia X has confirmed its order of 100 Airbus A330neo widebody aircraft, after window shopping at Boeing earlier in the year.

AirAsia Group CEO and AirAsia X co-group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, speaking at a briefing today, said the group was in discussions with Airbus for two years and was looking to cancel the order before reaffirming and increasing the order, after reviewing AirAsia X's model over the last one year.

“We got close with Boeing, they ran a good campaign. It was a close fight. Until a week ago, I didn’t really know which way we were swinging ... but I’m confident we chose the right plane for us,” he said.

The order for the 100 aircraft is worth US$30 billion (RM121.8 billion) at list prices.

Fernandes said funding sources for the order include sale and leaseback, leasing capital and debt capital but he declined to reveal the contract value of the order.

AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail said the first delivery of three planes will begin in the third quarter of 2019 and these planes will most likely be operated out of Malaysia.

The subsequent deliveries will be five to six planes in 2020 for all three markets and 10 planes in 2021 for Thailand and Indonesia. Benyamin said the planes will primarily be used to serve North Asia markets.

Apart from the 100 aircraft order, the group will be leasing two A330neos for AirAsia X Thailand, to serve flights from Bangkok to Prague, Vienna and Stockholm.

Meanwhile, AirAsia and Airbus have begun talks to explore cooperation to develop an industrial aeronautical centre in Malaysia.

The project will begin with a proposed feasibility study to be carried out over 18 months including a detailed technical, marketing and finance analysis. Options under consideration include the establishment of maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, training centre, data centre, possible industrial cooperation and Airbus supplier implantation.