Local rival MAS meanwhile solicits bids for replacement of 737-400s and Fokker 50s

AirAsia has selected the CFM International CFM56 to power its new fleet of Airbus A320s, while rival Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has finally moved forward with its own evaluation of new narrowbodies by requesting bids for Boeing 737-400 replacements.

CFMI beat off a bid from International Aero Engines and its V2500 engine in the campaign to power AirAsia's December order for 40 A320s plus 40 options, according to industry sources. An announcement is expected this month. AirAsia evaluated both companies' engines, but acknowledged from the beginning the CFM56 was the frontrunner. CFMI aggressively sought the AirAsia contract to improve its market share in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year several new A320 customers in Asia selected the V2500. AirAsia will begin taking delivery of A320s in January 2006.

Meanwhile, MAS has issued its long-awaited request for proposals (RFP) to airframe manufacturers for dozens of new narrowbody and regional aircraft. Orders are expected around the middle of the year. MAS has for years been considering a modernisation of its 737-400 and Fokker 50 fleets, but repeatedly deferred decisions. It said late last year that RFPs were being prepared and industry sources confirm these have now been issued.

The airline is seeking offers on more than 40 A320s or 737-700/800s to replace its 39 737-400s and initial bids are due around the middle of February.

Boeing will be pushing particularly hard for a win after losing the AirAsia competition - a deal it had described as a "critical" at the time.

ATR, Bombardier and Embraer are separately preparing offers for aircraft to replace MAS's 10 Fokker 50s, which are used on domestic routes within eastern Malaysia.

MAS has said both turboprops and regional jets will be considered and last year Bombardier and Embraer demonstrated aircraft to the state-owned carrier.


Source: Flight International