MIAMI — AirAsia X and Airbus announced a firm order for 25 A330-300 aircraft on Wednesday. The order will complement its existing order of 26 of the airplanes plus six more from the International Lease Finance Corporation. Airbus reports that the order is the largest single order ever for the venerable A330.
The carrier, who will begin to receive the airplanes in 2015, intends to use them to expand existing service and open new markets. It currently operates sixteen A330-300 airplanes, and has ten A350 on order as well.
AirAsia X is the long haul arm of low-cost budget AirAsia. It was founded in 2007, and it based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The carrier’s order underscores not only its own but the entire region’s significant growth in air travel. Southeast Asian budget carriers such as AirAsia, Jetstar, and Scoot among others have seen a boost in business thanks to rising economic conditions.
Airbus’ A330 airplane, which first flew in 1992, has seen a resurgence in the past few years. It benefited especially from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner problems as it has provided a comparatively inexpensive, and readily available, alternative. Budget carriers such as Air Asia X have found the airplane particularly attractive.
Capitalizing on the airplane’s renewed popularity, the manufacturer launched the latest version of the airplane in late September: the A330 regional. The aircraft has derated engines and a lower much gross weight. It is specifically geared toward the Asian, and particularly Chinese, markets with its higher cycle life and seat capacity.
Airbus has delivered 1,033 of the airplanes through the end of November 2013, according to the company, with 1,284 on order including 48 this year. Today’s deal would add to those numbers.