AirAsia X seeks A330 sale and leaseback deals

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Malaysian long-haul carrier AirAsia X is looking to sell and lease back two of the six new Airbus A330s it will take delivery of by the end of 2010.

Speaking at the Cargo Facts annual Aircraft Symposium in Seattle, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani says the carrier, which currently operates three A330s and two A340s, has issued a request for proposals for the sale and leaseback covering one of the three A330s it is scheduled to take by year-end. He says the other two aircraft will be financed.

Azran says AirAsia X is also scheduled to take three A330s next year, with deliveries in June, July and November. He says the carrier is looking to pursue a similar combination of two financing deals and one sale and leaseback for these aircraft.

He says AirAsia X will use the three A330s to be delivered the reminder of this year to launch new services from Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi and Chengdu in China plus add capacity on existing routes to China and Australia.

Azran says AirAsia X hopes to use some of the extra capacity being added next year to launch services in Sydney, which would be the carrier's fourth Australian destination after the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth. AirAsia X has been trying to secure rights for Sydney for some time and Azran says he now expects this will be achieved in the first half of 2010.

AirAsia X is also evaluating a number of other potential services for 2010, including extending its new Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi route to Europe. Azran says the carrier typically decides on new routes three to four months before an additional aircraft is delivered.

Azran says the carrier may need to raise more capital in 2011 or beyond to support its continued fleet expansion but "right now we're not actively looking at it". According to Flightglobal's ACAS database AirAsia has 23 A330-300s on outstanding order as well as 10 A350-900s.