April 30, 2019 / 12:52 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Air Arabia to meet Airbus and Boeing ahead of imminent 100-jet order, says CEO

(Adds quotes, detail, context)

By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI, April 30 (Reuters) - Budget airline Air Arabia is likely to order 100 or more Airbus or Boeing jets within the next three to four months, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The United Arab Emirates’ only listed carrier has long been looking to update and expand its fleet of 54 Airbus A320 jets.

“We need to put an order in. That is overdue,” Adel Ali said at the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai.

The airline will hold talks with both planemakers this week, he said.

The talks come against the backdrop one of the biggest crises in Boeing’s 103-year history after two of its 737 MAX jets were in fatal crashes.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since an Ethiopian Airlines MAX crashed in March, killing 157 people.

Some airlines are rethinking orders for the MAX jets, though Ali said he hopes Boeing, the world’s largest planemaker, will resolve any issues by the time Air Arabia makes its decision.

Boeing has said it is developing a software fix and new pilot training for regulatory approval to get the company’s best-selling plane recertified.

Air Arabia, which has only operated Airbus jets, could switch to Boeing aircraft, Ali said.

“Whoever comes up with a better option we will go for,” he said.

The order would replace aircraft at Air Arabia’s main base in Sharjah, UAE, and hubs in Egypt and Morocco.

Air Arabia is also considering ordering smaller, regional jets for domestic flights in Egypt and Morocco, Ali said. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell Writing by Saeed Azhar Editing by David Goodman)

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