Airbus and Air Asia celebrated this event with a special touch that underscores the close relationship established between this low-cost carrier and aircraft manufacturer. The carrier’s latest fleet addition carries the wording: “Thank you Louis Gallois” on its main passenger door, saluting the former Airbus CEO – who will complete his current role as the CEO of parent company EADS this week.
During the ceremony at Airbus’ Toulouse, the French delivery centre, the A320 was unveiled in the presence of Gallois, who was welcomed by Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, and joined by Airbus President and CEO Thomas Enders, along with John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer – Customers.
“Air Asia could not have reached this point in our amazing story without the tremendous support we’ve received from Airbus, going back to the start of our relationship in 2004,” Fernandes told the journalists.
“No airline could have grown like ours without the support of such a great partner as Airbus, who has seen us through both the good and bad times.”
Air Asia has gone from its origins as a two-aircraft airline carrying 200,000 passengers annually a decade ago to becoming the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region’s leading low-cost carrier, with the goal of transporting 33 million passengers in 2012.
“Gallois has played an enormous role in helping us achieve this growth, and naming the 100th aircraft after him is one way to thank this friend of our airline for his warmth, friendship, patience, and especially his belief – which is a key element at Airbus,” he added.
“What Airbus did was believe two guys from the music industry who had a dream about making it easier to fly, and they have stayed with that belief in helping us deliver on that ambition and transforming travel in Asia forever.”
Air Asia’s innovative route structure includes 50 percent of routes that were not previously operated by other carriers, with many of these segments using the A320’s operational flexibility – including opening access to many airports.
“The A320 delivers fantastic reliability, and we work these aircraft very hard: flying them almost 14 hours a day – conducting eight landings and take-offs, performing turnarounds in 25 minutes,” he added.
The airline currently has 375 A320 aircraft on order, including Airbus’ latest version the A320neo (new engine option).