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This will be our biggest market by far: Airbus

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 | 10:44 PM ET
Asia will be the biggest market: Airbus CEO
Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 | 1:39 AM ET
Fabrice Brégier, CEO of Airbus, says as Asian nations get richer, more people are flying, providing huge potential for the company.

Asia is set to become the biggest market for Airbus, the company's CEO told CNBC following a deal to supply new aircrafts to Malaysia's AirAsiaX.

AirAsiaX, a Malaysian long-haul budget airline, on Wednesday said it would order 25 Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a deal valued at $6 billion at list prices.

(Read more: AirAsiaX eyes connectivity with $6 billion Airbus deal)

"This [Asia] will be by far the biggest market… close to 40 percent backload of our orders are already from Asia, be it Southeast Asia or China," said Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier.

"This is a growing area because there is a huge population that is getting richer and with these low cost models many people can travel. You should know that only 15 percent of the world population has taken a plane. You imagine the potential," he added.

The new Airbus aircraft will be used for new routes, possibly including Europe, and increased frequency on existing routes, according to AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.

(Read more: AirAsia ready to take on India challenge: CEO)

While Asia is the core market for the low-cost carrier, it has been hoping to resume flights to Europe that were suspended during the financial crisis.

"They have given us a good price, but price is one thing," Fernandes told CNBC following a press conference on the deal. "The after sales support from Airbus has been nothing short of amazing and we like uniformity. Having the same type of plane reduces our costs, which translates into low fares for our passengers."

Gulf carriers don't prefer Boeing: Airbus COO
John Leahy, COO of Airbus, rejects claims that Gulf carriers prefer Boeing aircraft, after Etihad Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways and German airline Lufthansa all placed orders for Boeing's new 777X jet.

The deal is the largest single airline order for the current generation of Airbus wide-body jets, Reuters reported.

"I am confident that it will be a fantastic year for us because we are probably with this order, close to 1,400 net orders in 2013," Brégier at Airbus said, replying to a question about whether the firm was confident about winning the race for new orders against rival Boeing.

"I'm confident that if I'm not number 1, I will be very close to it," he said.

(Read more: Airbus in landmark jet order with Japan Airlines)

Asked whether increased demand from Asia would mean shifting more production to the region, the Airbus CEO said the company would "see about it."

On the subject of the economic outlook and what that means for the airline industry, AirAsia's Fernandes said he "never cared much" about economic conditions since the airline had already had to deal with headwinds such as financial crises, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Brégier at Airbus highlighted the euro as a concern for his firm. The euro is trading around $1.3655 and has gained about 7 percent since early July.

"We believe that the euro is still too high and the weak dollar is an obstacle to exports from Europe," he said. "A currency that is closer to $1.20 per euro would reflect better the differences of competition and value between the two currencies."

— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter

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