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|05 December, 2018

Kuwait's Jazeera to decide between Airbus, Boeing order next year

Over 2 mln passengers expected to fly on Jazeera in 2018

Jazeera Airways aircraft at Kuwait International Airport.

Jazeera Airways aircraft at Kuwait International Airport.

Jazeera Airways / Handout via Thomson Reuters Zawya

DUBAI- Kuwait's Jazeera Airways will by the end of February ask Airbus AIR.PA 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.

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An order could be worth around $3 billion 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 737MAX, 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 consist of 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 percent 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 NWC.OL to enable passengers to make connecting flights between the airlines in London.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) ((Alexander.Cornwell@thomsonreuters.com;))