Despite an ailing global economy and rising costs, Malaysia’s rambunctious budget airline AirAsia is expanding aggressively against the country’s lackluster national flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines. AirAsia’s growth, if it comes off, would make the airline group – Malaysia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia – which is publicly traded on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, Airbus Industrie’s largest airline customer for the 180-seat A320, with a total of 175 aircraft. Undercutting MAS, which although it has had some profitable quarters recently, has gone broke periodically amid bursts of managerial incompetence, AirAsia has experienced tremendous fast-track growth since it placed its original order of 60 A320s in March of 2005.

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