July 19, 2018 / 9:43 AM / a year ago

Airbus seeks splash to end airshow with AirAsia wide-body order

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 19 (Reuters) - Airbus was set on Thursday to win a much-needed endorsement for the A330neo from its largest buyer as AirAsia prepared a long-distance finale to the Farnborough Airshow.

This week's air show has been dominated by a flurry of unidentified orders swelled by leasing companies which reached almost $50 billion on Thursday, as well as public orders for Boeing and Airbus jets from AirAsia's Vietnam rival VietJet.

The A330neo has been hit a series of market losses to the newer Boeing 787, leaving Airbus dependent on AirAsia to restore momentum in the upgraded long-haul plane.

The ongoing battle for sales in that part of the market was underscored on Thursday when Boeing said it had firmed up an order for at least 10 787s from Hawaiian Airlines, which it secured after the airline cancelled an order for the A330neo.

AirAsia, Asia's largest budget carrier, said it would hold a news conference in Kuala Lumpur for a "major announcement related to developing long-haul operations".

People familiar with the matter said AirAsia was expected to reconfirm an order for 66 of the upgraded wide-body A330neo, which it had threatened to cancel in favour of Boeing's 787 in a rift between Airbus and its largest Asian customer.

AirAsia co-founder Tony Fernandes, a regular at airshows but who did not attend Farnborough this year, was also expected to expand the A330neo deal by around 30 aircraft to bring the order close to 100, worth $30 billion at list prices, they said.

But the planemaker's hopes of securing an additional order for 100 A321neo from AirAsia appeared to have been dashed.

Airbus and AirAsia declined to comment.

Airbus meanwhile won a provisional order for 10 A320neo jets from SaudiGulf, industry sources said. Airbus announced the order on Thursday without identifying the name of the buyer. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Eric M. Johnson, Andrea Shalal, Mike Stone, Sarah Young Editing by Victoria Bryan)

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