AirAsia is looking at speeding up the delivery of its new Airbus A320neo next year as the carrier faces a shortage of aircraft due to fast-rising demand. The numbers speak for themselves: according to Group CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s Malaysian operations would likely record its highest-ever load factor at more than 90% occupancy during the third quarter of this year. The Group CEO estimates that load factors are also on the rise for its affiliates in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Fernandes estimates that AirAsia would be short of eight to nine aircraft next year. “I think we will take delivery of those aircraft quicker than anticipated. But until I lock in those numbers firmly and whether they can come from Airbus or from the leasing market, I cannot confirm the delivery number yet,” he said to media after welcoming AirAsia’s first A320neo in Kuala Lumpur at the end of last week. Present at the ceremony were Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, French Ambassador to Malaysia Christophe Penot, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Victoria Marguerite Treadell, AirAsia X Bhd group CEO Kamarudin Meranun and CFM International executive vice-president Allen Paxson.
The new aircraft is equipped with a Space Flex Cabin for an optimal passenger comfort and efficiency, and has 186 seats. It is the airline group’s 172nd aircraft to be received from a total of 575 aircraft in its order book. AirAsia is consequently Airbus’s biggest customer for the A320 family.
“We are thrilled to receive the Airbus A320neo, which will ensure AirAsia remains at the forefront of our business, with one of the world’s youngest and most modern fleet. The aircraft will deliver fuel savings of 15 percent and additional range capability of 500 nautical miles, which will be translated to low fares for our guests. This is further complemented with the extra seats installed, pushing the capacity up to 186 per aircraft”, explained Fernandes.
“We are particularly pleased on the environmental element, where the fuel savings translates into some 5,000 tonnes less CO2 per aircraft per year, in addition to the double-digit reduction in NOx emissions and reduced engine noise” he added.
AirAsia is the first airline in Southeast Asia to operate the A320neo, which is powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines and a total order of 404 A320neo. Airasia had ordered 100 A321neo aircraft worth US$12.6 billion (RM52 billion) at the Farnborough Air Show in July. The low consumption of the aircraft will be all good for passengers. Group CEO Fernandes promises that fuel savings will translate with lower fares, approximately down by 15%.