AirAsia is to sign an eight-year lease agreement with General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) for seven more Boeing 737-300s as the Malaysian low-fare domestic carrier prepares for a capital injection from new investors and eyes international routes.

The first additional 737-300 is due in September and one will be delivered every two months after that, says Connor McCarthy, AirAsia senior advisor and 5% shareholder, from Kuala Lumpur. The agreement is due to be signed with GECAS on 18 June.

"Before going into service the aircraft will undergo a full D-check and extensive modification that will take about two months for each aircraft," he says, adding that AirAsia hopes to "decide this week" whether to use Singapore Technologies Aerospace or another undisclosed maintenance, repair and overhaul firm for this work.

The GECAS deal will double AirAsia's all-737-300 fleet to 14 aircraft and comes at a time when the airline is about to identify new investors. McCarthy says the extra investment will boost staff morale because "in this economic climate to gain a large and significant amount of cash and a respectable valuation" is an achievement. The airline plans to identify its new investors on 27 June.

Source: Flight Daily News