AirAsia May Buy Another 100 A320 Jets

AirAsia, the region's biggest budget carrier, may buy an additional 100 Airbus A320 jets to support its rapid growth and hopes to finalize talks by end January, a senior company official said Friday.

A new order will double the existing order for Malaysian-based AirAsia, which has already committed to buy 100 single-aisle A320s from the European jet maker.

AirAsia's executive director, Kamarudin Meranum, said the airline is still negotiating with Airbus on pricing and delivery for an additional 100 planes, and declined to say how much the deal might be worth.

Based on list prices, the order would be valued at $6.7 billion, but aircraft suppliers usually give discounts to their customers for large orders.

"We are looking at a maximum 200 planes, including the 100 firm orders," Kamarudin told reporters. "We have not finalized as yet. We are still talking...we hope to finalize before the end of the month."

Set up in 2001, AirAsia is the region's only publicly listed budget carrier and has about 40 planes now. It is rapidly expanding its regional network, with ambitious growth in India and China.

Kamarudin said the carrier is working on the best structure for the deal, which may include firming up a current option to buy 30 more A320 jets under an existing agreement and placing an order for another 70.

AirAsia also wants Airbus to speed up delivery of the 100 planes it has ordered, from 18 planes a year to 24 a year, he said.

The sale underscores the appeal of the A320 for airlines flying short-haul routes and further entrenches Airbus as the preferred supplier for one of Asia's most successful young carriers.

Airbus has aggressively marketed the A320, a head-to-head rival for the Boeing 737, in a bid for market share, and it is producing A320-family jets at record levels.