By Ankit Ajmera and Alexander Cornwell
DUBAI (Reuters) – Airbus <AIR.PA> clinched a $14 billion (£11 billion) order from Air Arabia for 120 A320 jets, beating U.S. rival Boeing Co <BA.N> after more than a year of talks between the budget carrier and the planemakers.
The order announced at the biennial Dubai Air Show would more than double Sharjah-based Air Arabia’s fleet of 55 narrowbody aircraft. The United Arab Emirates’ only listed airline wants to further expand its operations beyond the Middle East.
The deal is one of the largest narrowbody plane orders in the region. At the previous air show Boeing secured an order worth $27 billion from flydubai that included options to buy 225 Boeing 737 MAX jets, which have been grounded.
Air Arabia Chief Executive Adel Ali told reporters his carrier’s order included about 70 A320neo jets, while the rest would be A321XLR and A321neo models.
“The addition of the A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR complements our existing fleet and allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model,” Ali said.
He said the carrier had yet to finalise an engine option.
Airbus <AIR.PA>, which last month cut its full-year delivery goal for commercial jets due to production glitches, said the planemaker was working “relentlessly” to live up to the promises it had made to customers.
“The industrial pressures that we are facing are the direct consequence of very strong market demand and endorsement for our products,” said Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer, adding that the “slight delays” on A321 deliveries would soon be disappear.
The plane manufacturer said it expected the first delivery for Air Arabia to be in 2024.
Air Arabia has its main hub at UAE’s Sharjah airport and has operating bases in Egypt, Morocco and UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah.
The company said last month it would jointly set up a low cost carrier in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways to tap a growing demand for budget travel from the UAE capital.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Ankit Ajmera, Tim Hepher; Editing James Drummond and Edmund Blair)