PARIS: Malaysian airline AirAsia X has ordered 42 Airbus aircraft worth a total catalogue price of US$5 billion, Airbus said on Friday (Aug 30).
The long-haul arm of Malaysia's flagship budget carrier AirAsia has placed a firm order for 12 long-range A330neo planes and 30 medium-range A321XLR models, the European aircraft manufacturer said in a statement.
Major purchases are often finalised at a discount to the official catalogue price.
The contract with Airbus increases the number of A330neos on order by AirAsia to 78, making it the largest global customer for the type.
None of the planes from its prior firm order for 66 A330neos have yet been delivered to the airline, although Thai AirAsia X took a leased A330neo this month.
AirAsia did not announce planned delivery dates for the fresh batch of 12 A330neos or the A321XLRs, but AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a statement that the types were "perfect partners" for AirAsia X's long-haul low-cost operations.
"In addition, the A321 XLR offers the longest flying range of any single-aisle aircraft and will enable us to introduce services to new destinations," he added at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
He added that some of the destinations AirAsia was looking into with the new fleet were Nice, France, which is famous for its beaches, as well as London.
"London has always been close to our heart and with these new aircraft, we are positive we can reach there and return (profitably)," he said.
Airbus launched the A321XLR only this year, at the Paris Air Show, and expects to roll it out starting in 2023.
The single-aisle's aircraft range is 15 per cent above that of its predecessor model, the A321LR, making it a cost-effective alternative to long-haul widebody planes.
Industry sources have said AirAsia was in talks to become a launch customer for the A321XLR but an agreement did not materialise in time for the showcase event.
AirAsia X last week reported its biggest quarterly loss since 2015 and said it expected continued pressure on the Malaysian currency and for the operational environment to remain challenging against the global economic backdrop.
The low-cost airline, which flies to 31 destinations across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the US, claims that it has "the lowest unit cost base of any long-haul airline in the world".