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AirAsia Buys 40+40 Airbus A320s (Dec. 17)

SEPANG, Malaysia --- AirAsia, a leading low fare no frills airline in Southeast Asia, has signed a memorandum of understanding with European plane manufacturer, Airbus, for 40 firm orders of the A320 aircraft, and another 40 purchase rights.

The signing of Memorandum of Understanding between AirAsia Berhad, represented by its Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tony Fernandes, and Airbus which is represented by Mr. John Leahy, Airbus’s Chief Commercial Officer, today marks the conclusion of months of negotiations following AirAsia’s Request For Proposal from Boeing and Airbus for a proposed acquisition of up to 80 new aircraft, consisting of 40 firm orders and 40 purchase rights.

Delivery of the new A320s is expected to take place over a period of up to 5 years with an average of one aircraft per month, starting from January 2006.

AirAsia at present operates 24 Boeing 737-300s with a 148 seat configuration, of which 19 are leased, and five owned. The airline will gradually shift its operations to the new aircraft type with new sets of engines to replace its current fleet. AirAsia would operate a mixed fleet during this transition period.

The A320 family features the most modern design, the widest and most comfortable cabin, and the highest degree of operational commonality of any single-aisle aircraft. 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. AirAsia’s A320s will be outfitted with the airline’s signature red carpet and plush leather seats.

The Airbus A320 has a 180 seating capacity, with a flying range of up to 5,700km/3,000nm. It features the latest fly-by-wire technology and is in widespread service on five continents.

Financing for AirAsia’s Airbus A320 purchase is expected to be concluded soon. AirAsia is presently in discussion with the European Export Credit Agencies.

“AirAsia begins yet another new chapter with our new aircraft acquisition. We are excited to be the first Malaysian registered airline to operate the Airbus A320s. Our partnership with Airbus will ensure a reliable and continuous supply of aircraft to meet our growth and regional expansion plans.

“The Airbus modern aircraft is designed for reliability, as well as easy and cost-effective maintenance based on standards approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada. This contributes to AirAsia’s cost optimization policy through 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 new aircraft would be introduced gradually into AirAsia Group’s entire fleet, which includes our operations in Thailand through Thai AirAsia, and Indonesia , through the newly re-launched AWAIR,” said 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 a sure winner that will further spur AirAsia's success,” said John Leahy, Chief Commercial Officer, Airbus

AirAsia presently operates over 100 domestic and international daily flights with a fleet of 19 Boeing 737-300s from its hubs in KL International Airport and Senai International Airport ( Johor Bahru) in Malaysia, while its joint venture companies in Thailand through Thai AirAsia operates 5 Boeing 737-300s from Bangkok International Airport and AWAIR with 1 Boeing 737-300 from Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia

Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market. They range in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats and incorporate the latest state-of-the-art technologies. With an annual turnover of EUR 19.2 billion in 2003, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain, as well as subsidiaries in the US, China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.

AirAsia Seals 80 Aircraft Deal -- Airbus A320 Picked for New Fleet