Indonesia's Lion Air is in discussions with Boeing about a possible deal for the yet-to-be launched -900X extended-range variant of the 737.

Lion Air director of operations David Lumbuun says the airline has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Boeing for the purchase of 40 737-900Xs. "Our plan is to take delivery from 2007," says Lumbuun, referring to the -900X model, which has a greater take-off weight and a seating capacity of up to 220 compared with 189 for the baseline model.

Boeing has been seeking a -900X launch deal for several years, but says that talk of a potential deal to enable it to go ahead with the variant is "very premature" and adds that "although we are having discussions with Lion Air, to call it an MoU would probably be something of an exaggeration". Behind the scenes, however, pre-launch activity for the -900X appears to be building amid growing anticipation of a firm commitment for the model.

Even though Boeing has an MoU with Lion Air, Lumbuun says the carrier is still considering Airbus A320 family aircraft and might end up ordering this aircraft type instead of 737s.

Lion Air wants new aircraft for international services and some domestic routes although it expects to retain Boeing MD-82/83 aircraft for domestic services.

Meanwhile, Boeing has exp­ress­­ed surprise at news that Boeing shares had surged to their highest level in three-and-a-half years on 3 March, largely on the back of rumours of a large deal with Lion.


Source: Flight International