Etihad Airways would consider buying a small number of aircraft from Airbus and Boeing over the next five years if delivery slots opened up, its chief executive said on Monday.

The Abu Dhabi's carrier plans to grow its fleet of narrow and wide-body aircraft to 150 over the next five years, up from around 80 jets today, which would mean adding around 10-15 new aircraft each year.

Most of those new aircraft will be added through existing orders for Airbus A320s and A350s and Boeing 787s but some would need to be sourced from the leasing market and planemakers.

CEO Antonoaldo Neves said Etihad was in talks with lessors and the planemakers in attempt to secure additional jets to supplement those that would be delivered from existing orders.

He said the airline was interested in buying new aircraft directly from planemakers through delivery slots that had been cancelled or rescheduled by other carriers.

But Neves said Etihad would not place a large order.

"I'm a big believer in fleet flexibility. I don't like to lock in big orders," he told Reuters in an interview at the Arabian Travel Market tourism trade exhibition in Dubai.

"I've learned the best thing we can do is have an order book that is sizeable but does not define the entire future."

Planemakers have a huge backlog of aircraft still to be delivered, while airlines have in recent years placed massive orders for aircraft that will not be delivered for many years.

Both Airbus and Boeing have struggled to meet delivery schedules due to supply chain issues, while Boeing's production has slipped on increased quality checks and regulator audits.

Boeing has overhauled its management after a series of safety issues that shook industry confidence in it.

Neves said after recently visiting Boeing, he was impressed with the U.S. planemaker's initiatives for 787 delivery dates.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Alexander Smith)