AirAsia X looking further into Airbus A330neo to “finally confirm” order -co-group CEO

An AirAsia X Airbus A340 passenger jet arrives on its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris Orly Airport February 14, 2011. (Reuters pic)

SINGAPORE: AirAsia X Bhd needs to ensure the price, performance and engines of the Airbus SE A330neo are right before it will “finally confirm” its order for 66 of the jets, its co-group chief executive said on Tuesday.

AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia Group Bhd, is the largest customer for the A330neo, which is struggling for sales relative to the rival Boeing Co 787.

AirAsia X has a firm order for the fuel-efficient A330neo widebody jets to replace its older first-generation A330s but it has been pushing back the delivery dates.

It has been talking to Boeing about buying the 787-10 jet as an alternative and is likely to make a decision later this year, a person familiar with the discussions previously told Reuters.

The airline’s CEO, Tony Fernandes, on Tuesday said on Twitter that he was visiting Airbus at its Toulouse headquarters to discuss the A330neo as well as the smaller A321neo.

“We have ordered the 330 but to finally confirm it we must make sure price is right. Performance is right. The engine is right,” he said. “And the performance of the 330 251 tonnes is right. If right (it is) the plane we dreamt of and fought for and then we can order more. Or else.”

The 251-tonne version, which could fly non-stop from Kuala Lumpur to London, is a heavier version of the jet and has more range but will not be available for delivery until 2020.

Fernandes added that he believed the A321neo, a large narrowbody jet, was a “great plane” and raised the prospect of ordering more. He is also the CEO of AirAsia, which has 100 A321neos on order.