AirAsia Group "joined at hip" with Airbus despite cancellations

FILE PHOTO: Tail of AirAsia X plane as seen at the Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia in Tangerang, Indonesia, September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Group Bhd is not looking to switch aircraft supplier despite cancelling orders from Airbus last month, its chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said.

Fernandes initially declined to comment when asked on a panel at the Reuters Next conference if the airline he founded would switch to Boeing, but then said that the airline and Airbus “love each other”.

“We love each other. Between us and Airbus, we’ve lots of ups and downs like any relationship but we’re joined at the hip,” he said.

Airbus said last week it had cancelled a deal with AirAsia Group’s long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, including for 10 A350 wide-body jets worth $3.2 billion at list prices. It still has more than 108 other orders from the financially troubled carrier.

AirAsia Group, together with AirAsia X, is one of Airbus’ largest customers and also purchases exclusively from them.

The planemaker last month challenged AirAsia X’s debt restructuring scheme, saying it stood to lose more than $5 billion worth of orders if the scheme went through.

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Reporting by Liz Lee, editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan