At a delivery ceremony in Hamburg, Germany, budget airline Air Asia took delivery of its very first Airbus A321neo. The event took place on Wednesday under grey skies and wet conditions. According to The Star, the narrowbody long-haul jet will begin operating this week from AirAsia’s hub in Kuala Lumpur to cities across Asia. Destinations already identified include Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.
The Star also reports that it had its ferry flight back home after the ceremony, with over 30 media personnel from the Southeast Asian region as well as AirAsia staff. According to sources included FlightRadar24 and Planespotters, the airplane has been assigned the registration 9M-VAA and includes a unique and ‘funky’ livery.
AirAsia revealed the order for the A321neo at the Paris Air Show this year. The airline announced a conversion of 253 A320neos to the larger A321neos. This will make AirAsia the largest customer in the world for this type. The larger A321neo offers 50 seats more over the current A320neos. Furthermore, it also provides 40% more cargo space as well as “expanded seating capacity with an optimised use of cabin space”.
The upscaling of the order back in June was welcomed news for Airbus. Although the quantity of aircraft ordered stayed the same, all of them being converted from existing A320 orders marks the biggest order for the larger variant of the narrowbody to date. It also signifies a massive vote of confidence for the type. The A321neo is the longest variant of the popular A320 family of aircraft. In fact, with the new improvements of the neo (new engine option) there is an expected 20% increase in fuel efficiency from the A321ceo (conventional engine option). Efficiency features include new generation engines and fuel saving Sharklets.