The long-haul arm of Malaysia's flagship budget carrier AirAsia has placed a firm order for 12 long-range A330neo planes and 30 medium-range A321XLR models. Wire photo.

In a major blow to US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, Malaysian airline AirAsia X has ordered 42 Airbus aircraft worth a total catalogue price of US$5 billion, Airbus said on Friday, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.

The long-haul arm of Malaysia’s flagship budget carrier AirAsia has placed a firm order for 12 long-range A330neo planes and 30 medium-range A321XLR models, the European aircraft manufacturer said in a statement.

Major purchases are often finalized at a discount to the official catalogue price, CNA reported.

The contract with Airbus increases the number of A330neos on order by AirAsia to 78, making it the largest global customer for the type.

None of the planes from its prior firm order for 66 A330neos have yet been delivered to the airline, although Thai AirAsia X took a leased A330neo this month.

AirAsia did not announce planned delivery dates for the fresh batch of 12 A330neos or the A321XLRs, but AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a statement that the types were “perfect partners” for AirAsia X’s long-haul low-cost operations.

“In addition, the A321 XLR offers the longest flying range of any single-aisle aircraft and will enable us to introduce services to new destinations,” he added at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The refreshed Airbus A330neo cockpit. Courtesy Airbus.

He added that some of the destinations AirAsia was looking into with the new fleet were Nice, France, which is famous for its beaches, as well as London, CNA reported.

“London has always been close to our heart and with these new aircraft, we are positive we can reach there and return (profitably),” he said.

Airbus launched the A321XLR only this year, at the Paris Air Show, and expects to roll it out starting in 2023.

The single-aisle’s aircraft range is 15% above that of its predecessor model, the A321LR, making it a cost-effective alternative to long-haul wide body planes.

Guillaume Faury, The CEO of Airbus added: “This powerful solution will provide AirAsia X with the lowest possible operating costs to expand its network and enable even more people to fly further than ever before.”

AirAsia X last week reported its biggest quarterly loss since 2015 and said it expected continued pressure on the Malaysian currency and for the operational environment to remain challenging against the global economic backdrop.

According to Airbus, the A330neo will bring AirAsia X fuel savings of 25% compared to “older generation competitor aircraft of a similar size.” Meanwhile, the Airbus A321XLR will bring similar savings of 30% lower fuel burn than “previous generation competitor aircraft.”

According to Airbus, the A330neo will bring AirAsia X fuel savings of 25% compared to “older generation competitor aircraft of a similar size.” Courtesy, Airbus.

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