When Thai AirAsia X Flight XJ 310 departs Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport next Tuesday (June 25) those on board will be part of Southeast Asia aviation history as the airline becomes the first in the Asia-Pacific region to fly the new Airbus A330-900 aircraft.
Unveiled at the Paris Air Show earlier this week, the new wide-body, 377-seat Airbus A330-900 is the latest addition to the Thai AirAsia X fleet, a joint venture between AirAsia X from Malaysia and Thai AirAsia.
Capable of flying some 19,000 kilometres (about 12,000 miles) over a 10 hour period, the new aircraft will allow the airline to service destinations further afield than can be reached with its existing fleet of 10 Airbus A330-300s, whose range is limited to about 11,750 kilometres (7,300 miles).
Featuring energy efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines said to be at least 14 per cent more efficient per seat than the existing A330-300s, passengers will experience greater legroom, larger cabin bag storage spaces, and power sockets in every seat.
AirAsia X has ordered 100 A330-900 aircraft worth $30 billion from the European planemaker, of which 66 aircraft are firm orders and two are on lease.
While no delivery date for the additional aircraft has been provided, Nadda Buranasiri, chief executive officer of AirAsia X group said “we expect that Airbus will probably be able to provide us six aircraft a year”.
Apart from deployment on the Bangkok-Brisbane (Australia) and Bangkok-Shenyang (China) routes the airline is keeping its plans for the new aircraft under wraps.
“We have not decided where the new fleet will fly to as we are still studying each market to understand the demand and how we could leverage it. We are working it out to ensure that it will be profitable to us, while at the same time, make our shareholders and passengers happy”, Mr Buranasiri said.
Admitting that the airline was considering re-entering the European market, AirAsia X Bhd chairman, Rafidah Aziz, told a media conference following the unveiling of the A330-900 that the aircraft it had previously used on the Paris and London routes were the wrong type. “The cost factor was the one that literally killed us from the market”, she said.
Before the company makes any decision Ms Aziz said it needs to consider various factors including the operational costs and the projected revenue. That the new A330-900 uses more efficient engines will give added flexibility to the company to strategise and give better returns to its shareholders, she said.
Thai AirAsia X is the medium and long-haul operation of Thai AirAsia. It first began commercial flights on June 17, 2014 to Incheon, South Korea, before introducing flights from Bangkok to Japan’s Narita Airport in Tokyo, and Osaka, in July of the same year.
Thai AirAsia X Flight XJ 310 is scheduled to depart Don Mueang International Airport at 2340 on June 25 and due to touch-down in Brisbane at 1135 the following morning.
Update: This story was last updated at 1430 local time: AEC News Today has been advised that the inaugural Thai AirAsia X Flight XJ 310 service from DMK to BNE tonight, June 25, will be operated by a A330-300 registration number HS-XTF.
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She commenced as an intern at AEC News Today and was appointed as a junior writer/ trainee journalist on April 2, 2018