Airbus close to signing big deal with Garuda: source

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is close to signing a deal with Indonesian airline Garuda worth around 2.5 billion dollars, a source close to the matter said Tuesday.

"The negotiations between Airbus and Garuda are in the final phase and an announcement could come as early as Wednesday," the source said.

"The agreement involves the purchase of around 10 A330-300 planes for an amount estimated at 2.5 billion dollars" at catalogue prices, it added.

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Airlines rarely pay catalogue prices, however.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is visiting Indonesia, might announce the deal himself, the source said.

Airbus declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

A deal would be more than welcome for Airbus, which has only secured firm orders for 90 planes in the first quarter of 2012, compared with more than 400 for US rival Boeing.

In August, Garuda Indonesia, which is majority owned by the state, ordered 25 medium-range A320 Airbus planes for a catalogue price of 2.18 billion dollars.

The Indonesian archipelago consists of more than 17,500 islands and is home to 240 million people.

Its economy has posted strong growth in recent years and has a growing middle class that underpins air travel in general, and Garuda's expansion in particular.

Asia and the Middle East currently represent the best prospects for aircraft sales by leading manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing, the Canadian company Bombardier and Embraer of Brazil.

© 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 10, 2012