The deal represents the largest single order Airbus has ever received for the widebody, twin-engine aircraft. It will start delivering to AirAsia in 2015, adding to the airline’s current order of 26 A330-300s and 16 that already operate on routes from Kuala Lampur to Asian and Middle Eastern destinations.
The airline's director, Tony Fernandes, also said Wednesday that the order is a statement of intent in AirAsia’s “next phase of development to be the undisputed global market leader.”
The order is for the newest version of the Airbus A330-300, which is capable of flying from Asia to the Americas or Europe non-stop. There has been no indication of how much tickets will cost, but passengers will be expected to pay extra for food, comfort kits and entertainment, as is the norm on economy airlines.
The order marks the latest round in a flurry of deals between AirAsia and Airbus in the last few years, including an order for 200 A320 Neo planes worth $16.24 billion, one of the biggest orders of commercial aircraft. In separate deals, they have also ordered 10 long-range Airbus A350-XWB.
Other budget airlines recently have attempted to enter the long-haul market. Air Norwegian (OSLO:NAS) will start three-times-weekly service next July that will see flights going from London's Gatwick to New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with fares starting at about $200 one-way.
Ryanair (LON:RYA) has also expressed an interest in the market, claiming it will offer flights for as little as $15 to $20 from Europe to the U.S., not including baggage fees and extra charges.