At a delivery ceremony in Hamburg, Germany, budget airline Air Asia took delivery of its very first Airbus A321neo. The event took place on Wednesday under grey skies and wet conditions. According to The Star, the narrowbody long-haul jet will begin operating this week from AirAsia’s hub in Kuala Lumpur to cities across Asia. Destinations already identified include Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.
The Star also reports that it had its ferry flight back home after the ceremony, with over 30 media personnel from the Southeast Asian region as well as AirAsia staff. According to sources included FlightRadar24 and Planespotters, the airplane has been assigned the registration 9M-VAA and includes a unique and ‘funky’ livery.
“We could not be more thrilled that it will be the new backbone of our operations across the AirAsia Group. With the 25% increase capacity and 10% reduction in cost per seat, the A321neo will enable us to maintain low fares so ‘Everyone Can Fly!’…This new generation aircraft delivers significant capacity and cost benefits which we can pass on to our guests in the form of great value fares and it also unlocks exciting network expansion opportunities allowing us to fly the aircraft for an additional one and a half hours longer.” -AirAsia Indonesia chief executive officer Veranita Yosephine
An upsized order
A recent Twitter post about the delivery (shown below) mentions that this is the first aircraft out of the 353 ordered from Airbus. In fact, the delivery of this particular model is part of AirAsia’s plan to move from its existing fleet of A320neo aircraft to the larger A321neo.
A new era is about to take off! Join us as we fall in love at first flight in welcoming the pioneer, out of the 353 brand new #A321neo!
— AirAsia (@AirAsia) November 20, 2019
AirAsia revealed the order for the A321neo at the Paris Air Show this year. The airline announced the conversion of 253 A320neos to the larger A321neos. This will make AirAsia the largest customer in the world for this type.
The larger A321neo offers 50 seats more over the current A320neos. Furthermore, it also provides 40% more cargo space as well as “expanded seating capacity with optimized use of cabin space”.
The upscaling of the order back in June was welcomed news for Airbus. Although the quantity of aircraft ordered stayed the same, all of them being converted from existing A320 orders marks the biggest order for the larger variant of the narrowbody to date. It also signifies a massive vote of confidence for the type.
The A321neo is the longest variant of the popular A320 family of aircraft. In fact, with the new improvements of the neo (new engine option), there is an expected 20% increase in fuel efficiency from the A321ceo (conventional engine option). Efficiency features include new generation engines and fuel-saving Sharklets.
We’re excited to see how Air Asia will use the larger and longer-range jet in the Southeast Asia region. Do you have any predictions on what new routes might come with these new jets? Let us know by leaving a comment!