Indonesia’s Adam Air is to progressively transition to an all-Airbus narrowbody fleet after rejecting a proposed deal for Boeing 737-800s and instead inking a framework agreement covering leases and purchases for 30 A320s.

The airline announced the Airbus deal at a signing ceremony with the manufacturer today at the Asian Aerospace airshow in Singapore. Full details still need to be worked out but Adam Air says its plans will initially cover leases on six aircraft. The 24 additional aircraft will be acquired over a five-year period and they will be on a mix of lease and purchase arrangements.

Fast-growing Adam Air launched services at the end of 2003 and now operates around 20 leased Boeing 737 ‘Classics’ to 35 destinations including a handful of cities outside of Indonesia. It recently said it was likely to order 10 737-800s but chief operating officer Dave Laksono told Flight at the signing ceremony today that “after studying both Airbus and Boeing we believe Airbus can give us benefits in the operation”.

Laksono says the first aircraft will be delivered in 2007, followed by five more from the initial lease agreement within two years. He says a lessor has already been identified although a formal agreement has yet to be concluded. “We have found the leasing company already but it is subject to further negotiation,” he says.

Laksono adds that he expects to complete the transition to an all-A320-family fleet over a period of around 10 years as the airline is growing so quickly that the Airbus aircraft will initially be for growth rather than for replacement purposes. “We need about 50 aircraft in the coming years,” he says.

Airbus executive vice president for Asia-Pacific, Africa and corporate jets, Edouard Ullomo, says the agreement is in the form of a letter of intent “to carry on to reach a fleet of 30” A320-family aircraft, including the six initial leased aircraft, over five years. He expects half of the additional 24 aircraft to be purchased and the other half leased.

Based on current plans Adam Air will be the second A320-family operator in Indonesia, where the 737 ‘Classic’ remains the dominant aircraft type. Air Batavia recently became the first A320-family operator in Indonesia using leased aircraft.

This article first appeared on Air Transport Intelligence, an online business intelligence service for the air transport industry with 24 hour news and data available to subscribers.

Source: Flight International