By Bjorn Fehrm
July 13, 2016, ©. Leeham Co, Farnborough Air Show: AirAsia Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said yesterday that increased congestion the group has seen for several of the airports AirAsia operates to in the Asian market motivated an order for 100 Airbus A321neos.
“We are slot constrained on several of our destinations and when we can’t get any more slots from an airport, it’s better to take-off with the 50 more passengers that an A321neo offers rather than the 180 seat our standard A320 have,” said Fernandes.
“The congestion has grown to the point where it will no longer be optimal for AirAsia to only operate with our standard-size aircraft, our fleet of 200 A320ceos with 180 seats, which will be gradually replaced in coming years by our order for 304 A320neos with the same seating,” Fernandes said.
“The ordered aircraft will not reduce our A320neo order. We need those A320neos to replace our existing fleet of A320ceos when we start to phase these out in a year or so. The additional 100 A320neos are part of our natural growth,” he said. “The 100 A321neos with an option for 100 more will bring us extra capacity, but most crucially it will enable us to take off with 50 more passengers (in total 230) when the market demand is higher than our A320 can handle and there is no option for a higher frequency to the airport.”
Fernandes sees airports with slot constrains in several of AirAsia’s key markets.
“We are experiencing constrains already in Hong Kong, India and Singapore and we expect more markets to develop the problem. The authorities are working to increase capacities but we see no other immediate solution then getting aircraft that can transport more passengers per start and landing.
“This is a problem which is a recent development. We had not expected to order the larger A320 models by now. When we started the discussions with Airbus for the larger model, it soon became clear that we needed to mix in a substantial quantity into our standardized A320 fleet. We are fortunate to work with a vendor that could offer us this flexibility as part of its product range,” Fernandes said.