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AirAsia X Set To Take Delivery Of New Airbus A330 - REF MALAYSIAKINI

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 - Friday, Oct 31 marks yet another significant milestone for AirAsia when its low-cost long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X takes delivery of the first brand new Airbus A330, which is expected to reduce the airlines fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

The handing over ceremony comes more than three weeks after AirAsia bade farewell to the final Boeing 737-300 aircraft on its Malaysian operations. The low-cost short-haul airline, has now switched to Airbus A320 fleet, which is expected to help the airline save through fuel efficiency.

A group of Malaysian journalists who are on this assignment, will return to Kuala Lumpur on this ferry flight (inaugural flight) on board the new A330-300 on the same day, after the official hand-over in Toulouse, France.

Toulouse, dubbed Ville Rose ("Pink City") because of its distinctive pink buildings, is the aircraft manufacturers headquarters.

AirAsia X, whose shareholders include the Virgin Group of U.K., is helmed by its 36-year old Chief Executive Officer Azran Osman-Rani, previously Senior Director of Business Development at private satellite TV operator Astro, with key team members, comprising young, driven and dynamic individuals, having a wealth of experience in the aviation industry.

"The new A330 will enable AirAsia X to dramatically reduce operation costs. With the new aircraft, we can reduce costs from 4.0 cents per available seat kilometre (ASK) to 3.5 cents per ASK, which is significantly lower than the cost of 7.5 to 8.0 cents per ASK on traditional carriers," Azran told a media briefing last week.

He said AirAsia X's A330 is tailor-made for its low-cost long-haul service. The aircraft features specifications "never before used on an aircraft of any other airline before. It features a pioneering global design that will lead to a whole new category of aircraft."

Its brand new A330 will feature leather seats onboard, with optional XL seats for extra comfort and luxury; set meals for dining at 30,000 feet in the air; comfort kits; and an advance seat request option, together with an all-new inflight entertainment system.

"An all-new aircraft fleet gives us a strong differentiation against airlines that operate aged aircraft. The new aircraft will lower our fuel consumption and maintenance costs and enable us to raise our efficiency level by up to 30 percent. The new aircraft is the main factor in changing the global aviation industry," said Azran.

AirAsia X, which complements AirAsia's current extensive route network, covers destinations between four and eight hours in flight duration from Kuala Lumpur.

The first Airbus A330 will be the first of a batch of new fleet of 25 aircraft AirAsia X has ordered from Airbus.

Both AirAsia and AirAsia X, are no frills carriers. AirAsia's Airbus A320 has a 180-seat capacity while the Airbus A330 has more than 330 seats. The long haul affiliate provides both economy and XL seats while AirAsia operates a single seater.

During the trip, the media will visit the final assembly line of the A330 aircraft in Toulouse.

France is home to four Airbus manufacturing sites, along with three final assembly lines and the company's headquarters. The manufacturing sites form the Centres of Excellence for aircraft nose sections, centre fuselages and engine pylons and nacelles.

Nearly 11,500 people are employed at sites in Toulouse, where the final assembly of all Airbus aircraft takes place except for the A318, A319 and A321 (which is performed in Germany).

A new final assembly line has been built especially for the A380. One of the largest construction jobs of its kind in the world, it is named after the late Jean-Luc Lagardere, who was co-chairman of Airbus' main shareholder, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

Final assembly of Airbus aircraft includes joining the forward, centre and aft fuselage sections, mating the wings to the fuselage, which is followed by the installation of the horizontal tail plane, fin, engine pylons, landing gear and engines.

Integration of the systems in the cockpit, plus system tests, also are carried out, including avionics, electrical, hydraulic, flight control, air conditioning, fuel tank pressurisation and landing gear.

Cabin furnishing for the wide body A330/A340 is carried out in Toulouse prior to final delivery.

At the Saint-Eloi area of Toulouse, engine pylons are manufactured, while at Blagnac, electrical assemblies are built, along with the repair, modification and preparation of spares for in-service aircraft.

As part of the Airbus Centre for Excellence for aircraft cabin and cargo customisation, Toulouse is responsible for the customer definition of cabins, design and painting. A mock-up centre is included in the resources at Toulouse.

Toulouse activities also include flight and ground testing of aircraft, as well as research, design and development.

One of the three major Airbus training centres is also based at Toulouse.

The other three are in Miami, Hamburg and Beijing.

Nearly 4,500 people are employed at Airbus' central entity in Toulouse, situated close to Toulouse-Blagnac International Airport.

Airbus has 16 sites in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and fully owned subsidiaries in the US, China, Japan and the Middle East. Spare parts centres are located in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Washington, Beijing and Singapore.


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