AirAsia, the leading low fare, no frills airline in Southeast Asia, has signed a purchase contract for 60 A320s plus a further 40 options. This is an increase of an additional 20 aircraft on top of the original purchase agreement for 40 A320s order plus 40 options under the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 17th December 2004.

In making this order and option commitment for the A320, AirAsia has become the single largest customer for the aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region.

Deliveries of the first A320s will commence in late 2005 and continue through until 2011. The A320s will completely replace the single aisle, 148 seat configuration Boeing 737-300s currently operated by the AirAsia Group (comprising AirAsia in Malaysia, Thai AirAsia in Thailand and AWAIR in Indonesia). AirAsia would operate a mixed fleet during this transition period.

AirAsia is a new customer for Airbus in Asia - Pacific and the latest in a recent series of low cost carriers from the region to select A320 Family aircraft. Over 350 Airbus A320 Family aircraft are already in service with 30 airlines in Asia-Pacific, with total orders from the region exceeding 450 aircraft. The A320 Family has a widespread reputation for high dispatch reliability even on short hops, with wide aisles facilitating quick turnarounds for efficient operations.

“AirAsia is poised for more growth as we continue to develop new markets and improve on our frequencies to strengthen our existing network. The additional Airbus order would place us amongst the largest airline fleets in Southeast Asia, if not the no. 1 Airbus operator in the region. Our need for more aircraft is a direct response to the robust growth and exciting developments experienced by AirAsia including our sister companies, Thai AirAsia and AWAIR. We believe that we have applied the right strategy in delaying the deployment of leased Boeing 737 as we do not want to sacrifice our cost structure in order to address short term market aversions. With the additional aircraft order, our cost structure is further strengthened and we will remain the lowest cost airline in the world,” says Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia Berhad.

“Over the past 12 months, the A320 Family has proven to be the outstandingly popular choice with both start-up and established low-cost carriers in the Asia Pacific region and I am delighted to welcome AirAsia to this dynamic group. With its superb economics and high passenger appeal, the A320 is sure winner that will further spur AirAsia’s success,” said Noel Forgeard, CEO and President of Airbus.

The A320 offers optimum cabin comfort in its class, reflecting a common commitment that is found in all Airbus aircraft. And like all the passenger aircraft that Airbus produces today, it features many modern technology features at no extra charge – such as advanced fuel-saving aerodynamics, including winglets, widespread weight-saving carbonfibre composites, and pilot and maintenance-friendly fly-by-wire controls and centralised maintenance.

Widely accepted as the industry standard, the best–selling Airbus A320 Family comprises a variety of seating configurations that allow for a customized lay-out depending on the airliner’s needs. All of them share the same airframe – only the fuselage lengths are different – and the same cockpits, systems and engines, delivering unmatched operational commonality and savings to airlines.

These features would contribute to AirAsia’s cost optimization policy, as it offers a lower maintenance costs. In addition, the Airbus A320’s improved fuel efficiency, and higher passenger capacity, will enable AirAsia to enjoy considerable cost savings and hence a much lower cost of operations on a per seat basis.

AirAsia is ever committed to offer a quality product and a quality service to its guests. The A320’s 180 seating capacity would be outfitted with the airline’s signature red carpet and plush leather seats.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.