Etihad Airways is close to placing a order that could kick off a $50 billion jet-buying spree from the Gulf as the region's carriers flex their muscles in an industry hit by weak margins and high fuel prices.
Abu Dhabi airline Etihad is expected to buy dozens of Boeing jets, including the revamped 777X mini-jumbo and a repeat order for its 787 Dreamliner, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The deal could be worth $18 billion at list prices and comes as Etihad prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its maiden flight on Nov. 12, highlighting the Middle East's emergence as a fast-growing global travel hub.
If confirmed, Etihad's order could pre-empt a widely expected blockbuster deal for 100 or more 777X jets from rival Emirates, which has said it may announce a large order when it hosts the Dubai Airshow next month.
The deals are still under negotiation and could change in size and timing, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A win for Airbus
Mexican budget airline VivaAerobus has ordered 52 Airbus A320-family jets from Airbus , the European planemaker said on Monday, in a record-breaking deal worth $5.1 billion.
The order includes 40 A320neo jets, said Rafael Alonso, Airbus executive vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean. The 40 A320neo planes have a combined list price of $4 billion.
Airbus said the deal was the biggest ever order for its aircraft by a single airline in Latin America. News that VivaAerobus would place a large order with Airbus was reported first by Reuters in June.
Airbus said VivaAerobus, which has been using Boeing aircraft, has also ordered 12 A320ceo, with a combined catalog price of $1.1 billion.
The defection of VivaAerobus to a new supplier follows a bitter struggle between Airbus and Boeing as the Mexican low-cost airline becomes the latest to compare the newest fuel-saving models offered by both planemakers.
The first plane will be delivered in April 2014 and the last in 2021, VivaAerobus Chief Executive Juan Carlos Zuazua told a news conference. The airline said it has an option to buy another 40 Airbus A320neo planes in the future.
Zuazua said the “optimum mix” would be to split the total order between 60 percent purchased planes and 40 percent leased. He said the financing has not yet been finalized.