AirAsia CEO Pushing Airbus to Commit to ‘Killer’ A330 Upgrade

AirAsia BHD Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said he’s pushing Airbus Group NV and engine suppliers to upgrade the A330 wide-body aircraft with new power-plants to make the popular airliner more fuel-efficient.

Fernandes, speaking on Bloomberg Television, said he’s been driving Airbus “crazy” to commit to the upgrade, which would turn the 20 year-old aircraft into a “killer” model. He declined to say whether Airbus would unveil more detailed plans at the Farnborough Air Show later this month, saying only that the industry event in the U.K. would be “an interesting show.”

Airbus has said it’s weighing its options on the A330. The plane remains popular with customers even with a less favorable fuel burn than the competing Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, partly because it is less expensive to purchase. The company successfully introduced a new engine for its A320 single-aisle model a few years ago, turning that aircraft into the fastest-selling model in commercial aviation history as customers clamor for savings on fuel, their biggest expense.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and General Electric Co. both make engines for the A330, with Rolls-Royce winning the lion’s share in recent years. Rolls-Royce has said the business case for a revamped A330 depends on the number of aircraft and the role the U.K. manufacturer would play, while GE has said it would offer its GEnx model in use on the 787 and 747-8 jumbo jet.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.