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AirAsia X intends to buy 50 Airbus A330-900neo planes

Malaysian airline AirAsia X on Tuesday signed an outline agreement to buy 50 A330-900-neo passenger planes from Airbus in a deal worth $13.75 billion.

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom: Malaysian airline AirAsia X on Tuesday signed an outline agreement to buy 50 long-haul A330-900-neo passenger planes from Airbus, the European planemaker said.

The deal is worth $13.75 billion (10.11 billion euros) at catalogue prices and deliveries are due to start in 2018, Airbus said on the second day of the Farnborough airshow near London.

Plans for the neo, a new version of the long-standing A330 thanks to upgraded engines, were launched by Airbus at the key industry event on Monday.

"AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Asia's largest low-cost airline (Air Asia), has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 50 A330-900neo aircraft," said a statement.

"The agreement sees the airline become a launch customer for the latest version of the best-selling wide-body. AirAsia X will also be one of the first operators of the aircraft," Airbus added.

Airbus's main rival Boeing, ahead of the show, raised its forecast for industry aircraft sales over the next two decades to $5.2 trillion, driven largely by demand from low-cost carriers.

AirAsia co-founder Tony Fernandes said the neo was the aircraft "we truly need to develop (to) further our low-cost, long-haul model".

"I think this is going to be a remarkable plane," he told a press conference at Farnborough.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier said lower fuel consumption, extended long range capability and competitive acquisition costs will make the A330neo "a true game changer" for the aviation industry.

Airbus has managed to win outline agreements for 105 A330 neo planes in the first two days of Farnborough, exceeding its target of 100 sales with several days of the event to go. The other deals were agreed with aircraft leasing companies. In total the European aircraft maker has sealed $25 billion of orders for its passenger planes at the show.

Airbus has said that the A330neo, a rival to the 787 Dreamliner made by US rival Boeing, will be available in two versions: the A330-800neo and the A330-900neo. The neo is expected to cut fuel consumption by 14 per cent per seat compared with existing A330s, while deliveries will start in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Airbus has sold about 1,300 A330s, of which the vast majority are still in service since the model's launch in 1993. The group has forecast sales of the A330neo at potentially more than 1,000 units.

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