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AirAsia close to adjusting Airbus order plans: sources

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

PARIS/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - AirAsia Group Bhd AIRA.KL will announce on Friday an adjustment to its large Airbus SE AIR.PA order plans, confirming at least part of its order for A330neos while making room for the A321XLR, two people familiar with the matter said.

Airbus has been in talks for months to sell the latest addition to its narrowbody fleet, the long-range A321XLR, to its largest Asian customer in a move widely expected to lead to a restructuring of AirAsia’s order for larger A330neo jets.

AirAsia's long-haul arm AirAsia X Bhd AIRX.KL last year placed an order for 34 A330neos but it was never finalised in the Airbus order book.

The Malaysian carrier later raised the prospect of switching some of the widebodies to narrowbody models better suited for smaller markets before finalizing the order.

AirAsia X has 66 A330s on firm order with Airbus, according to the manufacturer’s order book, with none of them delivered yet.

AirAsia did not respond immediately to requests for comment. Airbus confirmed it was holding an event in Kuala Lumpur on Friday and said details would be revealed at the event.

Attendees will include AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, two additional sources said.

AirAsia X last week reported its biggest quarterly loss since 2015 and said it expected continued pressure on the Malaysian currency and for the operational environment to remain challenging against the global economic backdrop.

Reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris and Jamie Freed in Singapore; additional reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; editing by Jason Neely and Deepa Babington