AirAsia head Tony Fernandes swept into Paris yesterday with a huge order for Airbus A350 XWBs that will thrust the Malaysian carrier into long-haul routes to Europe, the USA, South America and Africa.
"I think it's a great aircraft," said Fernandes, who was negotiating the deal into the early hours of the morning yesterday. The 10 A350-900s, with 400 seats in a two-class, 10-abreast cabin layout, will be delivered from early 2016 and flown by its long-haul unit AirAsia X. The deal includes five options.
Fernandes praised Airbus for supporting the deal. "Airbus have really practised what they've preached. My favourite people are in [Airbus] customer finance who love buying and selling planes to us."
Fernandes will have secured a significant discount to the $2.4 billion list price of the 10 A350s, but AirAsia's founder stressed that it "was a tremendous deal for both of us. A relationship is clearly about two winners and no one party benefits."
The A350s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines in a deal worth up to $1.8 billion at list prices.
With French transport minister Dominique Bussereau also looking on during a packed press conference, Fernandes took the opportunity to lobby for traffic rights to serve Paris from Malaysia: "We hope you will give us rights to Paris - it will only grow the market."
With his tie discarded in true low-cost carrier fashion, in honour of one of the company's largest customers, Airbus president Tom Enders said: "This order is proof there are some rays of sunshine in the market."