Airbus has found homes for six A320neo-family aircraft rejected by one of its largest customers, Malaysia's AirAsia, as it makes further progress in reducing a surplus of jets left by the coronavirus crisis, industry sources said.
The fate of the jets was under scrutiny as they became an emblem of pandemic-induced problems in the aerospace industry coupled with a chill in ties between two of its major players.
In an unusually semi-public rift as the crisis deepened, Airbus in April placed six jets it had built for AirAsia on sale by tender after the carrier halted taking jets.
It has now found alternative homes, with the last to be handed to its new operator this month, a European industry source told Reuters. Airbus provided no comment.
Airbus has been steadily increasing deliveries as it strikes deals with airlines to reschedule deliveries or store jets.
It said last month it had reduced an overhang of jets that it had been unable to deliver during the crisis by 10 units to 135 jets. The redeployment of AirAsia aircraft is expected to trim the surplus further as deliveries top output in November.
Airbus is seeing strong demand, relative to the rest of the battered sector, for its A321neo jet and the aircraft has broadly sustained its value, the European source said. It is sticking with plans to increase output of the single-aisle jets.
The A321neo competes with the two largest version of the Boeing 737 MAX which won approval last week to re-enter service after a 20-month grounding in the wake of two crashes.
Boeing is expected to sell dozens of 737 MAX whose buyers had walked away during the grounding, raising concerns about price pressure across the industry though Airbus has signalled that it will try to hold the line on the best-selling A321neo.
Doubts however remain over demand for a larger jet, the A330neo, whose largest customer, AirAsia's long-haul unit Air Asia X, is seeking new funding to survive.
AirAsia said in April it would stop taking deliveries of any Airbus jets this year and review remaining orders.