AirAsia Rejigs Its Remaining Airbus A320 Order

AirAsia’s love affair with the Airbus A321neo shows no signs of abating, with the airline amending orders with Airbus to switch out future A320s for the A321neo. AirAsia says it remains committed to upgrading its mostly A320 fleet to A321neos.

AirAsia has converted outstanding A320 orders to A321neos. Photo: AirAsia

AirAsia now has 362 A321neos on order with Airbus

This week, AirAsia confirmed it would convert its outstanding 13 A320s to A321neos. It takes the number of AirAsia A321neos on order with Airbus to 362, with deliveries scheduled until 2035. The planes will get farmed out to various AirAsia airlines as demand warrants.

“We have always been in close engagement with Airbus, and we look forward to a full A321neo fleet conversion that will further solidify our lowest cost base and lean cost structure,” said AirAsia Group President Bo Lingam, “The A321neo will revolutionize the flying experience for our guests as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel post-COVID-19.”

AirAsia received its first A321neo in November 2019 and currently has four A321neos in service. Across the AirAsia Group, the total fleet size is now 211 planes, comprising 169 A320s, 38 A320neos, and four A321neo aircraft.

“The A321neo is a leader in its category, and it will enable AirAsia to serve the demand across our network with significant operational efficiencies, with more than 10% fuel savings,” notes Mr Lingam.

“The A321neo also includes an additional 50 seats and extra cargo space and will allow us to further reduce our cost per available seat kilometer (ASK) across the group, which will be passed on as lower airfares.”

AirAsia now has 362 A321neos on order with Airbus. Photo: AirAsia

AirAsia and Airbus reach a fresh deal to salvage order

AirAsia said last year it would run the ruler over its aircraft orders. At the same time, the airline temporarily stopped taking new planes. According to a mid-September Reuters report, Airbus had agreed to restructure the AirAsia orders and cut prices to retain the business. The embattled Kuala Lumpur-based airline had stopped sending progress payments to Airbus, causing production plans in Toulouse to stop.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with our long-standing partner AirAsia,” Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said. “It’s another endorsement of the A321neo as the world’s most efficient and popular single-aisle aircraft. It’s also an example of how we at Airbus have worked together with our customers to find solutions to adapt to the impact of the pandemic.”

AirAsia says the A321neos will eventually replace its older A320s. As well as flying more passengers, the A321neo offers significant operational efficiencies. The fuel savings translate into some 5,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per aircraft per year, in addition to the double-digit reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and reduced engine noise.

AirAsia’s A321neos will fly 50 more passengers than existing A320s. Photo: AirAsia

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AirAsia gears up to resume flying

News of the restructured aircraft order comes as AirAsia gears up to resume flying. As vaccination levels improve in key AirAsia markets, including Malaysia, domestic travel and some international travel is expected to resume soon.

On Thursday, AirAsia Malaysia announced it would only fly fully vaccinated adult passengers. The decision was effective immediately. AirAsia Malaysia said they made the decision to prepare for the “full resumption of its domestic and subsequently international flight services.”

Counting on passengers taking to the air again, AirAsia hopes to resume its previous growth trajectory. That growth included the regular thud of factory-fresh Airbus planes landing in Kuala Lumpur. Airbus will be hoping that’s the case.

Is the Airbus A321neo the right plane for AirAsia? Should they stick with the A320? Post a comment and let us know.