The underlying trend from 2014-2019 Airbus orders and amendments to orders showed that they kept kicking their orderbook down the line. It will be interesting to see if Airbus (now under new management) will be so accommodating with the latest request to defer deliveries.
I do not think that the bribes were the main motivation for the orders. Tony Fernandes and Kamaruddin were involved in many ventures and sponsorship of their QPR football club and Caterham F1 team could have cropped up casually as they were conducting official business with Airbus/GE and other business partners. They are also involved in lots of other businesses (the Tune Group is diversified).
In conclusion, I think that all these accumulated orders are based on a good dose of optimism but there is a genuine belief that they think that Airasia X would expand to Europe, US and other long haul destinations. They might have even factored in the possibility that the A339Neos delivery might be delayed (based on previous experience of Airbus product launches). One thing they could not predict was a global health pandemic.
The story continues....
1) If Airbus didn't win the order using a fair and transparent manner (the regulators have determined that they didn't), then they shouldn't have the rights to even impose any restrictions on order deferrals.
2) With regards to QPR and Caterham, any criminal investigator would tell you, coincidences don't just happen like that. Following this logic, that may be the reason why its flagged in the Airbus probe, notwithstanding any other potential evidences that the officials had.
3) Air Asia group was already facing headwinds even before this. Air Asia India probe, lack of progress with regards to proposed subsidiaries in Vietnam and Cambodia, etc. Air Asia X was in an even worse state, similar issues with starting new subsidiaries in other countries as per parent group, one subsidiary ceasing scheduled ops, another subsidiary that hasn't turned in a profit. Coronavirus is not the cause of Air Asia's troubles, but it will worsen it.
It just seems that Air Asia's modus operandi is:
Dump cheap seats and see what happens, never mind the viability, never mind the other airlines, as long as "Anyone can fly".
Try repeatedly to set up new subsidiaries in other countries.
Then draw up a fleet plan based on the best case scenario where every country welcomes Air Asia and everybody flys Air Asia.