AirAsia X has confirmed that its recent order of 12 A330-900s and 30 A321XLRs is a restructure of an A330neo order placed at the 2018 Farnborough air show.
The long-haul, low-cost operator tells Cirium the commitment to order 34 additional A330-900s placed in June 2018 was conditional, despite it being announced as an order. If it was approved, that order would have taken its backlog to 100 A330-900s.
"The previously announced agreement was subject to final approval by the airline’s board. In the interim, the combination of the A330neo and the new A321XLR emerged as the perfect solution to meet more closely the future needs of AirAsia X," says the airline.
AirAsia X revealed in September 2018 that it was considering the A321neo and the LR variant to support future route development and frequency increases. Airbus subsequently launched the A321XLR in June, and Cirium's fleets data shows that the 4,700nm (8,700km) range variant has attracted orders for 180 aircraft - including the 30 from AirAsia X.
"The A321XLR is a perfect partner for our A330neos, assisting to manage capacity during off-peak seasons when demand is lower and for operating thinner routes to some underserved secondary cities," it adds.
The 30 August purchase takes AirAsia X's orderbook to 78 A330-900s, 30 A321XLRs and 10 A350-900s, although the latter order appears to be dormant.
Delivery of the first A321XLR is expected in 2023, but the carrier has yet to decide between the CFM International Leap-1A and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine to power its aircraft. However, sister carrier AirAsia's A320neos are powered by Leap engines, suggesting that type may hold the upper hand in commercial negotiations.
Thai AirAsia has become the first AirAsia X carrier to operate the A330-900, having taken delivery of the first of two leased from Avolon earlier in August.