AirAsia plans boost to Airbus plane deal

Kasmira Jefford
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AIRASIA is understood to be close to buying an extra 100 A320neo jets from Airbus, in a deal that would make the budget airline one of the world’s largest carriers.

Last month the Malaysian airline’s owner, Tony Fernandes, stormed into the Paris Air show ordering a record-breaking 200 revamped A320 planes for £10.5bn - the largest number of jets ever bought in one deal.

Fernandes is not short of ambition for the airline, which he rescued from bankruptcy in 2001 when he bought it from the Malaysian government for a token of 25p.

Starting with just two Boeing jets and $11m in debt, Fernandes has grown AsiaAsia’s fleet to 93 planes which fly to 63 destinations, driving the rapid expansion of budget, short-haul flights in Asia.

In May, Fernandes announced that he would boost the firm’s Airbus fleet five-fold to 500, with aggressive plans to grow in new regions including the Philippines and Vietnam as more people in the region demand cheaper flights.

The charismatic entrepreneur has been called Malaysia’s answer Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. In 2007, the trained accountant launched AirAsia X, a budget long-haul airline, followed by Tune Hotels, an Asian no-frills chain. Fernandes also owns the Formula One team Lotus.