KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — AirAsia has announced its plans to lease 15 Airbus A321neos, marking its first significant expansion of its fleet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is planning to launch two new units in Southeast Asia.

According to Bo Lingam, President of AirAsia Aviation, the deliveries are expected to begin by the end of 2023 at the earliest and will be designated for the group's units in the Southeast Asian region, which includes Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Since the lifting of most "zero-Covid" restrictions in Beijing earlier this year, AirAsia Aviation has restored approximately 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity to China. According to Bo Lingam, the company's President, AirAsia Aviation hopes to return to full capacity for China by the third quarter of this year, from July to September.

According to Bo Lingam, the leased Airbus A321neos will provide a temporary increase in capacity for AirAsia Aviation as the company awaits delivery of its own A321neos. The Asian low-cost carrier has over 300 A321neos on order.

Lingam also highlighted that during the course of the pandemic, AirAsia Aviation did not expand its fleet but instead retired or returned some aircraft as their leasing terms ended.

The airline group is working towards bringing their parked aircraft back into operation, with 150 jets already back in service across its Southeast Asian units out of a total of over 200 aircraft. It is expected that all aircraft will be back in service by August.