ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
AirAsia may increase fleet
Now he wants to double the size of AirAsia's fleet to catch up with industry titan Southwest Airlines.
Fernandes signaled ambitious plans for AirAsia as he closed in on a potentially massive deal to buy Airbus aircraft, which could rival a recent US$16 billion, 180-plane deal as one of the world's largest.
“The expansion plan reflects confidence in a fast-growing Asian transport market which continues at a blistering pace despite concerns over fuel prices. AirAsia has a potential to have about 500 planes ... that we could be the size of Southwest airlines. That would give you some idea; we already have an order of 175 or so,” he said
“The market is big and growing. We are in a fantastic playground, Asia Pacific,” Fernandes said. Such a deal could make AirAsia to Airbus what Southwest is to Boeing, dominating the customer list for their respective narrowbody airliners.
Texas-based Southwest Airlines started operations after a legal battle in 1971 and has grown into the world's top low-cost airline with a fleet of 548 Boeing aircraft.
AirAsia already has the largest number of A320 aircraft on order of any airline, second only to a US-based leasing giant.
Fernandes is looking at placing a big order for A320neos, a revamped version of Airbus's best-selling, medium-haul plane.
Airbus has been under pressure to deliver on pledges to announce hundreds of sales of the A320neo at the Paris air show on June 20-26, as rival Boeing tries to persuade airlines to hold off and wait for an even bolder potential redesign of its 737.
The timing appears to favour AirAsia. “I am never one who particularly likes air shows, but aircraft manufacturers like air shows, so let us wait and see,” Fernandes said.
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