Pegasus Airlines unveils deal for 100 Airbus planes

Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines said Tuesday that it has ordered up to 100 Airbus passenger jets, the biggest commercial plane deal to date by a Turkish airline and the first time that Pegasus has not placed its orders with Airbus' arch US rival Boeing.

Pegagus chairman Ali Sabanci told a press conference in Istanbul that the airline had signed a firm order for 75 planes and taken options on 25 others from the Airbus A320 series, in a deal that would carry a catalogue price of $12 billion (9.1 billion euros), though large orders are routinely signed at discounts.

The purchase involves deliveries that are to extend from 2015 through 2022 and includes Airbus A-320 Neo and bigger A-321 Neo planes, which are the latest, more fuel-efficient versions of the group's top-selling short- to medium-range aircraft.

Pegasus is thus set to become the first Turkish airline to operate the A320 neo plane, which is to be equipped with new engines and "sharklet" wing tips that provide substantial fuel savings.

Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy was quoted by a statement as saying that the new aircraft would "cut fuel burn by 15 percent" while offering the proven reliability of a model already being flown widely around the world.

Sabanci added that such savings by the Airbus airliner along with "superior cabin comfort made it without a doubt the best choice for achieving our ambitious future development plans."

Airline analyst Christophe Menard from Kepler Capital Markets commented that the order "would be another token for Airbus to demonstrate that the A320 Neo is a superior offering to the B737Max, as the Boeing plane should have been the natural successor to the current fleet."

The Airbus aircraft are to be deployed on flights from Istanbul to other Turkish cities as well as destinations in Europe and the Middle East, a Pegasus statement said.

Pegasus, the initiator of low-cost flight model in Turkey, started business with two aircraft when it was founded in 1990.

It currently operates 42 Boeing planes, and serves 24 destinations in Turkey and 38 others abroad.

The airline also owns 12.02 percent of the voting rights in the Germany low-cost airline Air Berlin, making Pegasus the German airline's second-biggest shareholder.

The deal comes as part of a rapid expansion in Turkish aviation industry after Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) ordered in October 15 Boeing jets in a deal worth $4.7 billion at list prices.

Earlier in October, THY, which has Turkey's largest fleet with 185 passenger and cargo aircraft, ordered 15 Airbus A330-300 long-range jets in the carrier's 20th deal with Airbus valued at $3.5 billion.

Last week, Malaysia's AirAsia, the leading low-cost airline in Asia, ordered 100 Airbus A320 airliners at a list value of $9.3 billion, becoming the biggest customer for the single-aisle A320 family in the world.

Airbus said that so far, more than 8,800 A320 aircraft had been ordered and more than 5,300 delivered to more than 380 customers and operators worldwide.

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