AirAsia X Could Defer A350 Delivery

October 14, 2014

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Malaysia's AirAsia X could defer the delivery of its Airbus A350s if European economies fail to recover by the time it receives the first aircraft in 2018 or 2019.

"You can't really pinpoint it until the first one enters into service and the production schedule gets firmed up by Airbus," chief executive Azran Osman Rani said.

The broader economy could also be a factor, he told Reuters news agency.

"That really is conditional on the whole European economy bouncing back, travel from Europe to Asia being in a situation where demand exceeds supply, which isn't the case now because of the recession there and a lot of capacity from the Middle East carriers," said Azran.

AirAsia X has 10 A350s on order, with delivery due in 2018 or 2019, said Azran. It has also ordered 50 A330neos.

The re-engined variant of the A330 will provide lower operating costs than current A330s.

AirAsia X, which began operations seven years ago and mainly links Kuala Lumpur to points in China, Japan, Australia and South Korea, will divide the A330s among its three affiliates, Azran said.

Norwegian Air became the only European budget airline to operate long-haul routes last year when it started flying to the United States and Bangkok from Europe, arguing that the Boeing 787 made it possible.

AirAsia X tried flying between Asia and Europe with four-engined Airbus A340s, but halted that in 2012, arguing the low-cost model could not work until it got more fuel-efficient planes with a similar range.

After pioneering low cost long-haul travel in Asia and piggy-backing off the success of AirAsia, AirAsia X is waiting to see how the Nordic experiment turns out.

"We may be a follower. If the market's being created, it's much easier than pioneering a new market. Why not?"

"My immediate strategic focus is growing in depth and concentration across Asia Pacific instead of spreading thinly in going into Europe, US and Africa," Azran said.

(Reuters)