AIRSHOW-AirAsia X becomes first airline customer for Airbus A330neo

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 15 Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:21am EDT

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 15 (Reuters) - AirAsia's long-haul arm will be the first customer to receive the new revamped version of Airbus' wide-body A330 jet after the Malaysian-based budget carrier signed a memorandum of understanding for 50 A330-900neo aircraft.

The planes are worth around $13.75 billion at list prices. AirAsia X is due to take delivery of the aircraft starting in 2018, Airbus told a news conference at the Farnborough Airshow.

The announcement confirmed an earlier report by Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter.

AirAsia head and co-founder Tony Fernandes said: "We have been encouraging Airbus to launch this new version of the A330 for some time now ... We are 100 percent sure that the A330neo will be quite unbeatable in its size category."

Fernandes said the airline may look at converting 10-15 of the 38 A330s it already has on order to the new version, but that it may also need all of those, plus the A330neo jets. He said he would have to look at delivery schedules. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Tim Hepher; Editing by Mark Potter)