By BERNAMA / Pic By TMR
AirAsiA X Bhd has expanded its order with Airbus SE by adding 34 A330neo aircraft, bringing the total to 100 fuel-efficient wide-body jets.
AirAsia Group Bhd CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes said the new jets would replace its older fleet and result in a cost reduction of between 11% and 12%.
He said the decision, which not only reconfirmed its existing order for 66 A330neo jets but added 34 more, followed probably one of the most thorough aircraft evaluations the industry had ever seen.
“The first order will consist of three A330neo passenger jets, to be delivered by the third quarter of 2019 for Malaysia.
“The A330neos will be operated by AirAsia X out of its base in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” Fernandes said at a special announcement in Sepang yesterday.
He said the deal worth US$30 billion (RM122.2 billion) will be funded through cashflow and leasebacks.
“We’re looking at 14% savings in fuel cost and 5% savings in maintenance. This is a lot of savings,” he explained.
All the A330neo aircraft ordered by AirAsia X comprise the larger A330-900 model, offering range capability for non-stop services to Europe, including from Kuala Lumpur to London.
“With these new planes, we can now go to London. We’re not announcing that we’re launching flights to London, but with these new planes, it will be possible,” he said.
Fernandes said another five or six aircraft are expected to be delivered to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia by 2020, while 10 more would be delivered to Indonesia and Thailand, where the airline is focusing on market growth.
Explaining further, he said the group had looked at every aspect of the A330neo from technical performance and reliability to passenger comfort.
“It is clearly the right aircraft for us to expand efficiently our fast-growing long-haul network with even lower operating costs, while enabling passengers to fly further more often with highly competitive fares,” he added.
The A330neo is the latest version of the twin-aisle A330 family. It incorporates new generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, a new optimised wing and increased use of lighter composite materials.
Meanwhile, AirAsia and Airbus have begun talks to explore cooperation to develop an industrial aeronautical centre in Malaysia.
The project would begin with a proposed feasibility study to be carried out over 18 months, including a detailed technical, marketing and finance analysis, Fernandes said. — Bernama