Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Airbus to ink huge order from Indonesia’s Lion Air

LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL:Although France is facing rising unemployment figures, Airbus continues to recruit heavily and has plans to hire 3,000 employees this year

AFP, PARIS

European aerospace giant Airbus yesterday was to sign what would mark one of its biggest orders ever from Indonesia’s Lion Air for more than 200 A320 medium-haul jets, business daily Les Echos reported.

The deal is expected to be worth more than US$20 billion with a standard A320 model priced at US$91.5 million. Its newer and more fuel-efficient NEO plane has a price tag of more than US$100 million.

French President Francois Hollande’s office said that he would host the chief executive of Airbus to celebrate the signing of “a major industrial agreement,” but both the plane maker and the French presidency declined further comment.

The government said the deal with the Asian budget airline would be signed as France’s Industry Week kicks off, but declined to give more details on the nature of the agreement.

Yesterday’s meeting between Hollande and Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier was to take place at 10am at the presidential palace.

The news comes just days after Airbus received an order worth as much as US$15.5 billion from Turkish Airlines for up to 117 planes.

That order also centered on Airbus’s A320 medium-haul family.

Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest privately-run airline and would be a new client for Airbus as it has previously been equipped almost exclusively by US rival Boeing.

In 2011, the Indonesian carrier signed a record US$22.4 billion deal for 230 Boeing 737 airliners.

With about 240 million people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation and the most far-flung archipelago with more than 17,000 islands scattered across 33 provinces.

Air travel has grown sharply in recent years with the emergence of budget carriers like Lion Air, as well as rising incomes thanks to steady economic growth.

As France battles with rising unemployment figures, Airbus is one of the few companies that continues to recruit heavily.

In January, Bregier said the company would hire 3,000 people worldwide this year.

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