AirAsia X Bhd (AAX), the long-haul arm of low-cost carrier AirAsia Group Bhd, has finalised its order of 100 A330neo long-haul wide-body passenger jets for US$30bil (RM122bil) from European planemaker Airbus – a deal that the low-cost carrier had been deliberating over the past couple of years.

 AirAsia Group chief executive officer (CEO) and AAX co-group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the new aircraft would replace its existing ageing fleet and provide better cost savings.

“We’re looking at 14% savings in fuel, about 5% savings in maintenance and a variety of savings here and there. This will bring total savings in costs of about 11% and 12%,” he said at a media briefing.

Fernandes said AAX would receive delivery of the first batch of planes by the third quarter of next year.

“We’re looking at taking delivery of three planes next year. These will be exclusive to our Malaysian operations.

“The following year, we’ll be getting six planes that will be going to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Then in 2021, we’re looking at delivery of 10 aircraft.”

All the A330neo aircraft ordered by AAX are the larger A330-900 model. AAX will be the first airline in Asia to operate the aircraft.

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. Together, these advances bring a reduction in fuel consumption of 25% compared with older generation aircraft of similar size.

With the new aircraft, Fernandes said AAX would be able to make long-haul trips to destinations such as London, which it had scrapped back in 2012.

“The new aircraft allows us to go to places like Brazil, Namibia and London.”

When asked if the low-cost carrier had plans to relaunch its London route, Fernandes said: “We’re not announcing that we’re launching flights to London, but with these new planes, it would be possible.”

Apart from Airbus, Fernandes said the low-cost carrier was also in talks with Boeing, revealing that AAX “came close” to reaching a deal with the latter.

“We’ve had lots of years of analysis. But after two years, we’ve decided to go with Airbus. There were a lot of discussions.”

Fernandes said the deal with Airbus would help to bolster AAX’s business model further.

“We’ve been looking at the AAX model for the last 12 months and we’ve been working on how to make the model stronger. As strong, if not stronger, than AirAsia.

“AAX has had a chequered past, so over the last 12 months, we’ve been focusing on getting the model right. We have tremendous confidence in the future of AAX,” Fernandes said.



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