AirAsia X expects to use its incoming Airbus A330neo aircraft to launch longer-haul services in 2020, most likely into Europe and/or continental USA.

Speaking to FlightGlobal at the Paris air show today, AirAsia X Group chief executive Nadda Buranasiri said the A330neo was "going to be a big change that we can use to explore our growth".

Such expansion is likely to encompass European and mainland US services, Buranasiri says, adding: "You'll see us start flying within those ranges next year."

He notes that AirAsia X is still completing feasibility studies on its future network plans.

"It used to be medium-haul, now it could be medium-to-long-haul that we can look into the feasibility of flying," he explains, in reference to the capabilities provided by the A330neo versus its older-generation A330-300s.

The A330neo is "very significant for us", Buranasiri continues. Beyond the aircraft's extra range, it also provides "about 14%" better fuel efficiency than older types and "gives the passengers comfort inside the aircraft" through improved legroom, LED lighting and "one of the quietest cabins".

Thai AirAsia X's first A330neo is on static display at the Paris air show, in a two-class configuration comprising 12 business- and 365 economy-class seats. It is set to enter service this year, and is one of two that the Thai unit will lease from Avolon.

In total, AirAsia X group has 36 A330-300s in service, with 66 A330neos on order beyond the two to be leased from Avolon, according to Airbus.

AirAsia X co-group chief executive Tony Fernandes has previously asserted that the A330neos will allow the carrier to "dominate" markets such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, China and India.

Source: Cirium Dashboard