Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways will by the end of February ask Airbus and Boeing to pitch to supply up to 25 narrow-body jets, its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday.
The discount airline previously said it was likely to place an order by the end of 2018 but had not said how many aircraft it would take.
Jazeera is likely to decide on the order “very quickly” after it issues a request for proposal (RFP) for between 20 and 25 aircraft, CEO Rohit Ramachandran said in a phone interview.
An order could be worth around $3bn at list prices, depending on which aircraft are ordered, but it is common for airlines to receive discounts.
The airline is considering Airbus’ A320neo and A220, Boeing’s 737 Max, and Embraer’s E2, Ramachandran said.
Airbus earlier this year completed the acquisition of Bombardier’s CSeries jetliner and renamed it the A220. Boeing is in the midst of acquiring the commercial aircraft activities of Brazil’s Embraer, which builds the E2.
“The manufacturer that is able to demonstrate the best value to Jazeera will get the order,” Ramachandran said.
He said the RFP would include the requirement that delivery dates start in 2021 – and that he believed this was possible – even though the world’s two largest planemakers say they are mostly sold out of the jets until 2024.
The order is to expand and replace Jazeera’s fleet, which will comprise 12 A320 jets next year, up from nine today.
Jazeera, one of the Middle East’s few listed airlines, expects to carry over 2 million passengers this year, filling on average 76 per cent of all its seats, Ramachandran said.
It plans to add more flights to South and Central Asia next year and to start flights to London Gatwick by the middle of the year.
The roughly six-hour flight from Kuwait to London will be the airline’s longest, operated by an A320neo fitted with 162 economy seats and 12 business class seats, Ramachandran said.
He said Jazeera was in talks with European budget airlines easyJet and Norwegian Air to enable passengers to make connecting flights between the airlines in London.