Air Arabia to place orders for up to 50 aircraft, worth $3.95 billion

Boeing and arch rival Airbus are jostling for an order for 50 planes from United Arab Emirates-based Air Arabia that may potentially be worth as much as $3.95 billion. The announcement could very likely be made at the upcoming Dubai Airshow, which starts 11 November.

Air Arabia, the Middle East''s largest low-cost carrier, had previously said it was looking to purchase 34 Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 aircraft.

While a 50-plane order for Boeing 737-800s, at list prices of $79 million, would amount to $3.95 billion, a similar order for 50 A320s at list prices would be worth about $3.25 billion.

Air Arabia chief executive officer Adel Ali said the company would decide on a purchase of between 34 and 50 aircraft from the airplane makers in November. Set up by Sharjah, the third largest of the emirates, the low-cost carrier operates a fleet of nine leased Airbus A320s.

Air Arabia recently divested a 55 per cent stake in the airline through an IPO, and will use the $700 million it raised in the sale towards payments for the aircraft.

The carrier has plans to expand its fleet to 52 aircraft by 2016.