The following article from Air Transport Intelligence news answers some of your questions.
Industry sources say the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier's top
executives will be in Europe on Monday to unveil an order for over 30
Airbus A320s. The total order, including options, could exceed 100
A320s, they add. One well-placed source also says Airbus has agreed
to deliver some of the aircraft before 2012.
AirAsia already has 15 A320s and 35 Boeing 737s, and another 85 A320s
on firm order. However it needs even more A320s due to its rapid
expansion and as its associate carriers in Thailand and Indonesia are
keen to grow. The group, for example, wants to launch services to
India and additional services to China and the Philippines.
The A330-300 is also understood to be the front-runner for a 20
aircraft firm order from AirAsia X, the new long-haul low-cost
carrier that will be launched in July. The carrier, which is being
set up by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and several of his associates,
plans to launch in July with three leased aircraft and have the
purchased aircraft arrive later
One well-placed industry source, however, says Airbus and AirAsia X
may fail to conclude negotiations for A330s in time to make Monday's
announcement. Fernandes declined to say if the carrier had selected
A330-300s for the new long-haul operation, but he says that Air Asia
X will place an order for 20 widebodies by end-January.
AirAsia X plans to launch in July with services from Kuala Lumpur to
Tianjin and Hangzhou in China and from Kuala Lumpur to the UK, says
He says the Malaysian government has granted AirAsia X traffic rights
to Birmingham and Manchester, and that it was looking at granting
rights to London. The government has ruled-out London Heathrow and
London Gatwick, but industry sources say AirAsia is likely to get
Fernandes says they are considering the A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER
for AirAsia X, which will operate only one aircraft type. He
describes Airbus' A330 replacement, the A350XWB, as the perfect
aircraft for AirAsia X. However, he adds that they are first looking
at the A330 as the A350XWB is a new aircraft type under development
and will only be available in later years.
Fernandes concedes that it will also be easier for AirAsia pilots to
move from the A320 to the A330 rather than to the 777-300ER. But the
777-300ER has the range to allow AirAsia X to go non-stop from its
Kuala Lumpur base to Europe, while the A330 would have to stop on the
way due to its shorter range.
When asked about the A330's shorter-range, Fernandes says: "I don't
think it is a problem." He says if AirAsia X decides to use the A330,
the aircraft will stop in the Middle East and that AirAsia X plans to
make the airfares low enough to entice travellers.
"I think if you could fly from Kuala Lumpur to London for $200, then
you would not mind stopping-over in Sharjah (in the United Arab
Emirates)," he says. Other Middle East stop-over points being
considered include Bahrain and Kuwait City but Fernandes adds that
AirAsia is unlikely to stop-over in Dubai.
The government has also granted AirAsia traffic rights to undisclosed
destinations in Australia, the Middle East and other points in
Fernandes declines to discuss these but industry sources say Air Asia
X's Australian traffic rights include Avalon, a secondary airport
near Melbourne that Qantas Airways' low-cost carrier Jetstar
The Australian traffic rights exclude Melbourne and Sydney because
the rights are all being used by Malaysia Airlines. However, the
source adds that the government plans to negotiate a new air services
agreement with Australia that could help AirAsia X.