(Adds more source comments)
By Tim Hepher
FARNBOROUGH, England, July 15 Airbus has
clinched a deal with Malaysia's AirAsia for 50 A330neo
jets worth at least $12 billion at list prices, making it the
first airline to sign up for the newly launched wide-body jet,
people familiar with the matter said.
The deal, which is due to be announced at the Farnborough
Airshow on Tuesday, mainly replaces earlier models of A330 that
have been ordered but not yet delivered, they added.
Airbus and AirAsia declined comment.
The planemaker's sales chief John Leahy said, while
announcing a separate deal with leasing company Avolon for 15 of
the same aircraft, that he hoped to introduce an airline
customer within the next 24 hours, but declined to elaborate.
If confirmed, the deal would most likely make AirAsia's
long-haul affiliate AirAsiaX the first carrier to
order a fuel-saving model that it has long been pressing Airbus
to build in order to help it compete on long routes.
AirAsiaX has 38 outstanding orders for the existing version
A person familiar with the airline had told Reuters it would
be interested in converting part of those outstanding order into
the revamped model. But Leahy told a news conference on Monday
he did not expect more than a few conversions from old orders.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Siva Govindasamy; Editing by Mark