Airbus frontrunner to win big Air Arabia order: sources

DUBAI/PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus AIR.PA is likely to win an order for at least 100 jets from Air Arabia AIRA.DU with an announcement possibly coming as soon as the Dubai Airshow next week, two sources told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

The Emirati budget carrier has been considering the order for up to 120 jets, which would more than double its current fleet of 55 narrowbody aircraft, for more than a year.

Air Arabia, which has held talks with both Airbus and Boeing BA.N and said it would make a decision by January, was expected to select the European planemaker, the two sources said.

Airbus declined comment. Air Arabia did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The Dubai Airshow runs from Nov 17 to 21.

The main operation of the United Arab Emirates’ only listed airline is from Sharjah airport, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Dubai International Airport, the hub of Emirates airline.

Air Arabia also operates from the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah airport and has ventures in Egypt and Morocco.

Last month it announced it was setting up a budget airline in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi with state-owned Etihad Airways. It is unclear when the carrier, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, will begin operations.

Air Arabia’s fleet is currently only Airbus A320 family jets, meaning an Airbus order could provide it with operational consistency.

The decision would come as Boeing’s 737 MAX jet remains grounded following two fatal crashes.

Boeing has said it now expects the jet to resume commercial flights in January, pushing back its own target of this quarter.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell & Tim Hepher, writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan