AirAsia in $4 bln talks for 50 Airbus A320 jets
By Editor - Fri May 25, 8:43 am
TOULOUSE: AirAsia is studying a potential $4 billion deal to buy another 50 Airbus A320 passenger jets, its founder said on Thursday, extending the budget carrier’s dramatic growth, months after it placed a record order for 200.
Asia’s largest low-cost carrier is ready to swoop on the current version of Airbus’s passenger jets, known as the A320 or A320ceo, while waiting for a more fuel-efficient version of the 150-seat plane it ordered in record quantities last year.
“In my mind, that is an aircraft order that we would need, but we haven’t made the right analysis yet,”Tony Fernandes said in an interview.
“We have to look at whether we buy or lease. My sense is that we are short of aircraft, and our team is now evaluating.”
Fernandes was speaking after taking delivery of the Malaysian budget carrier’s 100th A320, a narrowbody plane that competes with the Boeing 737 – two industry best-sellers that have powered the growth of low-cost airlines.
In total it has ordered 375 Airbus aircraft. Economic growth, urbanisation and rising disposable incomes are spurring rapid passenger growth among Asian low-cost carriers, helping to shield Western planemakers from the malaise gripping developed economies.
NEW ORDERS A decision by Airbus and later Boeing to update their best-selling models with new engines to curb record fuel bills has produced a wave of orders in the last 12 months.
AirAsia ordered 200 of the revamped A320neo versions worth $18 billion in mid-2011. A fierce regional rival, Indonesia’s Lion Air, deliberately topped the deal by one jet with a 201-plane purchase from Boeing months later.
AirAsia may, however, need more of the current model to meet its expansion plans until the newer A320neo reaches the market from 2015 onwards. Its growth plans include Japan.
“We will obviously be talking to Airbus about more A320ceos,” Fernandes said.