AirAsia interested in potential Airbus A321neo freighter.
Malaysia’s AirAsia Group is in talks with Airbus about its interest in the manufacturer developing a new freighter version of its A321neo passenger plane, the head of its logistics arm said on Wednesday.
AirAsia would seek to convert a “meaningful chunk” of its 362 orders for the passenger version of the A321neo narrowbody to a dedicated freighter, said Pete Chareonwongsak, CEO of AirAsia logistics division Teleport.
“For a lot of the markets that we need to reach both in range but also in capacity, it’s a great product,” he told reporters of the potential freighter. “Would we be the launch customer? I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Chareonwongsak cited reports that China’s JD Logistics Inc plans to have a fleet of 100 freighters by 2030 as an example of the scale that AirAsia could seek in its cargo business as it focuses on growth in e-commerce, Reuters reported.
“We think that Southeast Asia, if we focus on this market, can absorb that level of capacity,” he said.
Industry website Leeham News in August reported Airbus was in talks with customers about a freighter version of the A321neo.
An Airbus spokesperson said on Wednesday that it was always looking to advance its products and was in constant dialogue with its customers listening to their requirements.
“There are many studies and not all see the light of day,” the spokesperson said. “Details of discussions with our customers remain confidential.”
Airbus in July announced plans for a freighter version of its A350 widebody jet, in a challenge to Boeing Co’s longstanding dominance of the market for dedicated cargo planes. Boeing is also expected to launch a freight version of its 777X big jet soon, with Qatar Airways and FedEx seen as potential launch customers, market sources say.
In the narrowbody market, older versions of the A321 and 737 passenger planes are being converted into freighters but there is no new-build freighter plane on offer.
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