22 ATW | February 2019 | atwonline.com
the main aims is to improve the connectivity between
the short-haul and long-haul LCC networks.
Scoot has had mixed financial results since its launch
in 2012. Te airline reported an operating loss of S$11
million ($8 million) in the September quarter of 2018,
versus a narrow profit of S$2 million a year before. Ear-
lier in the year when oil prices were higher, SIA SVP-
finance Stephen Barnes noted that rising fuel costs hurt
Scoot more than the parent airline because “it’s a lean
operation and … fuel price is less easy to absorb.”
However, the SIA Group is committed to invest-
ing in this part of the business, with two more 787-9s
scheduled for delivery to Scoot in the fiscal year end-
ing March 31, 2020. Scoot also has two more 787-8s
on order, although it has not confirmed when they are
arriving. Te carrier is not revealing if the -8s will be
in long-haul configuration, and such a decision could
depend on the success of the existing European routes.
AirAsia X has already experimented with long-haul
LCC flights from Asia to Europe using Airbus A340s.
Te carrier operated direct routes from Kuala Lumpur
to London and Paris, but cut these routes in 2012 because they could not be operated profitably. Tis was
partly because of high fuel costs and a worsening economic climate.
Te airline’s high-profile co-founder Tony Fernandes has hinted that AirAsia X wants to return to
direct Europe flights. However, such a move would be
complicated because the airline’s current fleet of Airbus
A330s would have to operate European flights as a one-stop service.
AirAsia X’s latest position is that it will wait for new
aircraft types to arrive before relaunching ultra-long-haul flights to Europe, and the right aircraft for the job
appears to be the A330neo.
Te airline has firm orders for 66 A330neos, with
deliveries scheduled to begin in late 2019. It has select-
ed the 251-ton maximum takeoff weight version of the
A330-900, which has a range of 7,200 nm. Fernandes
notes that this higher gross weight version could po-
tentially reach London nonstop from Kuala Lumpur.
AirAsia X also has a long-standing order for 10
A350s, which presents another option for long-haul
flights. However, with the A330neos able to fulfill this
requirement, the carrier is unlikely to take the A350s
and may negotiate to cancel them. Te carrier recommitted to its A330neo order in July 2018 and at the
same time signed an MOU for another 34 A330neos.
However, AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail said the
airline is “discussing switching the A330neo [MOU]
to the A321LR,” which could give the carrier more
flexibility to match market size and seasonality with a
Despite these bold fleet plans, the AirAsia X group
has been struggling to break even. Te group intends
to shut down scheduled operations of its Indonesian
affiliate in January and is realigning other parts of its
network. Short-term growth has slowed, with only one
aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2019.
Fernandes said recent losses reflect AirAsia’s network reshuffle and predicts its financial performance
Te massive order for A330neos signals “our con-
fidence in the AirAsia X model,” AirAsia co-founder
Kamarudin Meranun said. “Long-haul, low-cost is
something we strongly believe in.”
Other Asian LCCs are also believers. Te Lion Air
Group already operates six A330-300s in its Indone-
sian and Tai units in addition to its large narrowbody
fleet. Lion has ordered eight A330neos through lessor
BOC Aviation, which are scheduled to arrive in 2019
N SCOOT AIRBUS