Lion Group Leapfrogs AirAsia X as First Asian Operator of This Airplane
Lion Group is now in line to become the first A330neo operator in Asia, overtaking AirAsia X. Indonesia-based Lion Air and Thai Lion Air each plan to take an initial batch of two A330-900neos in 2019, which will make the two Lion branded airlines the third and fourth LCCs to operate the new type after WOW air and Azul.
Airbus is now in the final stages of certifying the A330-900neo ahead of delivery to launch operator TAP Portugal. The aircraft will be on flying display this week at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, where Airbus will be keen to announce new commitments for the A330neo programme after a sluggish initial four years.
AirAsia X is still on the books as the biggest customer for the A330-900neo, accounting for 66 of a total 232 orders, and was originally slated to be the first operator in Asia as well as the first LCC operator. However, AirAsia X has repeatedly delayed deliveries and at times has threatened to instead order 787s. AirAsia X is reportedly now close to recommitting to A330-900neos, with a potential announcement this week at Farnborough, but will not take delivery of its first A330-900neo until at least 2020.
- The Lion Group has committed to four A330-900neos for delivery in 2019 and will become the first A330neo operator in Asia.
- Lion Air will operate A330-900neos in single class configuration, while Thai Lion will operate A330-900neos in two class configuration.
- AirAsia X was an A330-900neo launch customer, initially ordering the aircraft in 2014 for delivery from 2018 but has delayed deliveries until at least 2020.
- AirAsia X has been trying to renegotiate its A330-900neo contract, potentially securing bigger discounts while switching to a higher gross weight variant.
- TAP Portugal will be the first A330-900neo operator while Azul and WOW air will be the first LCC operators with all three airlines slated to begin deliveries by the end of 2018.
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