Malaysia's two new start-up carriers, AirAsia and Saeaga Airlines, are negotiating for additional passenger aircraft to serve a planned expansion in regional and international routes.

AirAsia is understood to have asked manufacturers to submit initial proposals for a mixed fleet of new aircraft. According to industry sources, the carrier is planning to acquire 12-18 narrowbody and some four to five widebody jets over the next five years.

Airbus Industrie is to respond with an offer of A320s and A340s, while Boeing is pitching the new-generation 737-700 and the 777. The airline has been operating two 737-300s on lease from General Electric Capital since its launch in November 1996.

Air Asia now flies to Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, as well as domestic points. It has been given permission to launch a service to Shanghai in direct competition with Malaysia Airlines' twice-weekly frequency. Other planned new destinations include Japan and the central Asian republics.

Elsewhere in Malaysia, Saeaga Airlines chairman Ting Pek Khiing has announced plans to acquire five A320s, after considering and rejecting the 737-700.

The 18-month-old East Malaysian carrier has applied to fly to Singapore from Miri via Labuan and to Hong Kong from Kota Kinabalu, as well as on new domestic destinations. Longer-term plans include services to Australia, Taiwan and Macau.

Source: Flight International