Fernandes: AirAsia has not decided on jet deal

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 18, 2018.
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SEPANG: Budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd has not decided on which planes to acquire, its group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said yesterday.

“We haven’t made any decision yet. Wait and see. We definitely need more planes, as well as airports to support our growth plans,” he told a news conference late last night after announcing several awards won by AirAsia.

Fernandes also said he is not planning to go to the Farnborough Air Show outside London, which started on Monday.

“No. I’m not planning to go anywhere right now,” he added.

News reports that European aircraft maker Airbus SE is close to selling US$23 billion (RM93.06 billion) worth of aircraft to AirAsia have recently been coming out amid the ongoing air show — the industry’s largest trade expo this year.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that AirAsia, already the second-biggest customer for Airbus’ re-engined A320 narrow body, is weighing an order for as many as 100 A321neo jets, citing people familiar with the discussions. “AirAsia is simultaneously close to agreeing to order an additional 34 A330neo wide bodies, which would bring its total backlog for that aircraft to 100,” the report said.

When asked by Reuters at the air show in London yesterday, AirAsia Group executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranum was quoted as saying that “Everything is a potential. Nothing is cemented as yet.”

Yesterday, AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline by Skytrax for the 10th year in a row. It also took home Asia’s Best Low-Cost Airline.

AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) was also presented the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Cabin for the sixth consecutive year.

Dubbed the “Oscars of the Aviation Industry”, the Skytrax Awards are the global benchmark of airline excellence with over 20.36 million customers surveyed worldwide by more than 105 nationalities, measuring standards across 49 key performance indicators of an airline’s frontline products and services.

Fernandes said AirAsia would continue to use technology to make it easy for people to fly at low fares and the airline is also working on some new destinations.

“My dream is to get AirAsia to fly to all continents,” he added.

AirAsia shares, which jumped to a three-week high of RM3.16 on Monday, closed down four sen or 1.27% at RM3.12 yesterday, bringing a market capitalisation of RM10.43 billion.