Malaysia-based AirAsia X expects to take delivery of Airbus A330neos and A321XLR long-range narrowbodies from 2026, as the airline cautiously restarts its network after a two-year hiatus. 

Airline chief Benyamin Ismail tells FlightGlobal that the long-haul, low-cost carrier remains committed to taking delivery of the new aircraft, which will eventually replace its leased A330s. 

AirAsia A330neo

Source: Airbus

The A330neos are expected to arrive from 2027, while the A321XLRs will join the fleet a year earlier. 

Ismail says the A321XLRs will “address markets where an A330 with a high-density configuration is too much capacity”. He cites second-tier cities in China among examples of where the A321XLR, which recently performed its maiden test flight, could be deployed. 

AirAsia X has 15 A330neos on order following a restructuring of its orderbook earlier this year which saw the carrier slash its previous 78-unit commitment to the re-engined widebody. In addition, it has 20 A321XLRs on order. 

AirAsia X recently exited restructuring following a two-year “hibernation” amid the pandemic. 

Ismail says the airline has six active A330s now, and is in the process of returning five remaining jets – currently stored – to service. By February 2023, he expects all 11 widebodies to be back in the skies. 

Ismail also tells FlightGlobal that the airline intends to launch one-stop flights to London by Christmas this year. 

In mid-June, AirAsia X teased a relaunch of London flights later in the year, marking its return to the European market after more than a decade. 

Flights will be operated via Dubai with A330s. AirAsia X also said it will launch operations into Istanbul later in the year. 

AirAsia X first launched services to London Stansted in 2009 with fuel-guzzling A340-300s. High operating costs and pressure on yields forced the carrier to axe the route, alongside Paris Orly, by 2012.