PARIS/TOKYO (Reuters) - Airbus is set to announce an order from Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation, industry sources said, in a move that could help the planemaker narrow a gap with rival Boeing in their race to supply to Asia’s No.2 aviation market.
The order from Peach Aviation - 39 percent owned by Japan’s largest airline ANA Holdings - is expected to cover ten fuel-saving A320neo narrow body airliners and three previous versions of the A320, for $1.3 billion at list prices, said the sources, who did not want to be named as the deal is not public.
The European firm has said it will announce a “significant order” at a press briefing on Friday, 0100 GMT. A spokesman for the company in Tokyo, however, declined to comment when asked whether it would unveil an order by Peach Aviation.
The deal could be a shot in the arm for Airbus in its race against Boeing in Japan, where the latter is a bigger player with its strong ties to local aerospace firms such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that build significant portions of its jetliners. But, barring-last minute changes, the Peach Aviation order will be significantly smaller than some had expected.
According to the sources, Airbus has spent months trying to sell dozens of A320neo passenger jets to Peach Aviation.
The sources did not say whether the deal would include provisions to later expand the order with more jets.
Peach Aviation, which is looking to grow it business by adding new routes in Japan said: “We are considering various options, but have not yet decided on aircraft orders.”
“I am not currently aware of any plans for us to hold a press conference on Friday,” a spokesman for the low-cost carrier said. A spokeswoman for ANA also said that it was unaware of a press briefing on Friday.
Peach Aviation began flying in 2012 from Kansai in western Japan and operates 18 single-aisle Airbus A320 planes.
It started flying to Tokyo’s Haneda airport last year, and plans to open services to Sendai in northeast Japan in the business year starting April and to the northern island of Hokkaido in the following twelve-month period.
An order from Peach Aviation will take Airbus nearer to its target to sell 670 planes this year in the global market that is seen as somewhat oversupplied with jets. At the end of October, Airbus was 85 aircraft short of its aim.
Reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Himani Sarkar