AirAsia to convert 253 orders for Airbus A320neo planes to larger A321neo

FILE PHOTO: An AirAsia Airbus A320-200 prepares to land at Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi, Vietnam April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - AirAsia Group has decided to convert 253 orders for Airbus’ A320neo planes to the larger A321neo model, making AirAsia the world’s largest customer for the A321neo, but is not yet ready to order the new longer-range version.

“The change will enable the airline to offer higher capacity in response to ongoing strong demand across its network,” Airbus said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reuters last month reported the Malaysian low-cost carrier was in negotiations to buy the new longer-range version of the A321 passenger jet, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Airbus launched the A321XLR, which has a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, at the Paris Airshow on Monday. Asked on the sidelines of the show about the A321XLR, AirAsia Executive Chairman Kamarudin Meranun said that “negotiations are ongoing.”

AirAsia’s long-haul arm AirAsia X last year placed an order for 34 A330neo widebodies which it has yet to firm up. Some of those could be switched to long-range narrowbodies, the head of AirAsia X’s Malaysia arm said in November.

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Jamie Freed and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mark Potter