AirAsia X Will Rebuild A330 Fleet As Borders Open

Credit: Rob Finlayson

AirAsia X (AAX) has revealed more details about its plans to raise additional funds and progressively return more of its grounded fleet to service.

The Malaysia-based airline intends to be operating seven of its Airbus A330s by the end of the current quarter, said CEO Benyamin Ismail told Aviation Daily. The long-haul LCC only had three in service at the end of the 2021 fourth quarter.

AAX currently has 11 A330s in total, after cutting back its fleet considerably during its corporate restructuring. The airline operated about 25 A330s before the pandemic.

Ismail said AAX expects to have all 11 of the widebodies in its fleet operational by the end of October. The carrier is also in discussions to lease at least another four A330s “in preparation for a full resumption of passenger flights when borders open,” Ismail said. The carrier has “a targeted fleet strength of at least 15 A330s,” he added.

AAX is currently only operating one passenger route, a Kuala Lumpur-Sydney flight that it resumed on Feb. 14. Prior to that, the carrier was using its operational aircraft primarily for freight. AirAsia X has formed new cargo partnerships that will allow it to further boost its freight revenue.

The carrier announced it will raise a total of RM166 million ($40 million) through share issues. It had previously gained shareholder approval to raise up to RM500 million, but management has now decided the larger fundraising is unnecessary.

The proceeds will allow AirAsia X to “sit through any eventualities in the next couple of years even if borders do not open, which, however, will not be the case,” said the airline’s CFO Andrew Littledale.

Malaysian officials have signaled the country may reopen its border early in the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg report.

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.