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Indonesia's Lion Air mulls 'substantial' Airbus order

Lion Air is in talks with Airbus with regards to a "substantial" order for narrowbody aircraft, a move that could break Boeing's dominance in the Indonesian market.

The Indonesian low-cost carrier is "close to a decision" on whether it will order the re-engined Airbus A320neo family, say sources familiar with the discussions.

If it goes through, this could be a substantial order that might even match Lion's 2012 order for 201 Boeing 737 Max and 29 737NG aircraft.

Lion, which operates an all Boeing fleet, has a total of 329 737 aircraft on order. It also has 84 737-family aircraft in its fleet.

Airbus was also in contention for the 2012 narrowbody deal, which was first announced as a preliminary order in 2011 during US president Barack Obama's trip to Indonesia. The European airframer was disappointed with the decision, with its executives saying that they came very close to clinching the deal and breaking Boeing's grip.

In October 2012, Lion president director Rusdi Kirana told Flightglobal that he is calling on Boeing to speed up the delivery of its aircraft to meet the group's ambitious growth plans.

Sources say these concerns regarding the delivery schedule are also behind Lion's fresh look at Airbus aircraft.

In 2013, the group is also launching premium arm Batik Air and Malaysian joint venture Malindo Airways. Both carriers will start operations with a fleet of 737-900ER aircraft, with plans to add between 10 and 12 aircraft annually.

A large order from Lion Air will give Airbus a much-needed boost in Indonesia, where Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that 78.5% of all 325 narrowbody aircraft in service and 81.5% of the 428 on order are Boeing aircraft.

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