PARIS 2009: AirAsia X order marks final piece of fleet jigsaw

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AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes is describing its latest Airbus order today as the final chapter in the Malaysian airline group's fleet development strategy up to 2020.

Long-haul operation AirAsia X today signed an order for ten Rolls-Royce Trent XWB powered A350-900 XWBs, with deliveries beginning in the first quarter of 2016. It has also secured options on five more of the type.

It adds to existing commitments from AirAsia and AirAsia X for 175 A320 narrowbodies and 25 A330s - of which it already operates 45 A320s and a handful of A330s.

"Until last night we were still discussing terms [with Airbus]," said Fernandes at a press conference today to mark the order at the Paris air show. "It isn't all doom and gloom. It depends on the region and where you go. There is a lot of sunshine out there if you go and find it. We've always grown in the difficult period. People want to travel."

He says AirAsia X will look at deploying the aircraft across a range of markets, including Europe, the US, Africa and Latin America.

AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman Rani explains: "We selected the A350 XWB for the step-change it offers in terms of operating economics and its exceptional passenger appeal,"

Fernandes adds: "Business is all about timing and long-term strategy. By buying the A350 XWB the strategy of AirAsia and AirAsia X is now fixed all the way to 2020."

The latest AirAsia X order was welcomed by Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, saying: "Today is proof there are some rays of sunshine, in particular in the low-cost sector."