UK-based leisure airline Jet2 is looking to breaking a near two-decade loyalty to Boeing by switching to Airbus narrowbody jets in its upcoming fleet renewal, according to industry sources.
Speaking to Reuters, industry sources said the deal would be confirmed after discussions with both planemakers have taken place, but Airbus is in the lead at the moment.
If the Leeds-based carrier switches to Airbus, it would potentially involve the purchase of 50 jets, in a deal worth around US$5 billion before industry discounts of 50 per cent or more.
“As a successful airline and tour operator we are constantly in discussion with different aircraft manufacturers; this is part of our normal course of business,” a Jet2 spokesperson said.
Boeing and Airbus declined to comment.
Jet2 is one of the last airlines to make a decision on the latest generation of narrow-body jets offered by both competitors including the A320neo family and the Boeing 737 MAX.
The airline’s fleet is currently comprised of 91 solely Boeing aircraft, including 737-300s, 737-800s and 757-200s.
Its oldest active jet is from 2013 and the last delivery Jet2 received was in 2019, the final 737-800 of its 34 orders from 2016.
Jet2 has been operating since 2002 and is the third largest carrier in the UK, following British Airways and easyJet.
As the pandemic slumped travel demand, Jet2 lost £374 million (US$464 million) from 2020 to March this year, particularly as the airline operates packaged holiday deals and tourist flights.
These types of deals allowed UK citizens to book entire holidays with the company to popular tourism destinations, many to Spain, Greece and Italy.
Sources also said Boeing is still continuing to see increased demand for its 737 MAX despite another recent safety grounding, and it could still win the deal with Jet2.
In its second quarter results, Boeing announced 130 deliveries of the 737 MAX jets to over 30 countries since the global ungrounding in November last year, with an order backlog of 280.
Despite going head-to-head for years with Boeing, Airbus now confidently leads single-aisle market share by 68 per cent from this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Airbus is also in the lead with Italy’s new state-owned Italia Transporto Aereo (ITA), which is currently in talks for a potential order of 81 jets.
Speaking with local news outlet Corriere della Sera, three anonymous sources stated that the European planemaker may provide the airline with its aircraft in a tender valued at US$5.3 billion.
While not confirmed, this rumour also sparked a potential discount with Boeing of up to 70 per cent to ramp up competition.