AirAsia signals A320neo interest after deferring deliveries

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Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia has signalled interest in the Airbus A320neo by deferring delivery of a batch of A320s by three years.

The company says it has pushed back the delivery of 10 A320s from 2012 to 2015, stating that the decision will give it "some flexibility to switch" between the current A320 variant to a "new generation A320 which is more fuel efficient".

Its deferral pushes the delivery date of the aircraft closer to the planned introduction of the A320neo - a re-engined version of the baseline A320 - in 2016.

Under a purchase agreement in March 2005, which was subsequently amended, AirAsia has chalked up orders for 175 A320s.

But the airline has also previously deferred A320 deliveries, citing other reasons than a possible switch to the A320neo.

Last year it pushed back seven aircraft due in 2011 for reasons of "infrastructural constraints" at airports it serves, and issued the same concern when it deferred another 16 aircraft in 2009.

AirAsia states that, with the latest change, it will be reducing deliveries in 2012 to 14 aircraft rather than the planned 24. Deliveries in 2015 will increase from nine to 19 aircraft.

"No penalties are payable by AirAsia in revising the delivery schedule of the 2012 aircraft," the airline adds.