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Airbus Aims A320neo at Republic in Potential CSeries Clash

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS said it’s in talks with Republic Airways Holding Inc. about an order for A320neo jets, potentially boosting sales momentum for the narrow-body airliner three months after its introduction.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy declined to discuss details of a possible agreement in a telephone interview today. The A320neo features improved engines that burn less fuel.

“The world’s airlines are taking the A320neo very seriously,” Leahy said in the interview. With 302 commitments for the plane, the A320 is enjoying the “fastest rate of sales we’ve ever seen.”

Republic, which owns Frontier Airlines and four regional carriers, already flies Airbus A320 and A319 jets. Frontier operates regularly scheduled flights under its own name, while Republic’s other airlines ferry passengers to hubs for five major U.S. carriers.

“As current Airbus customers, we are major advocates of more-fuel-efficient aircraft and we are discussing the Neo with them,” Carlo Bertolini, a spokesman for Indianapolis-based Republic, said in an e-mail today. “We don’t have any specifics beyond that.”

’Loyal Customer’

Republic agreed in February 2010 to buy 40 Bombardier Inc. CSeries regional jets valued at $3.06 billion. Both Bombardier and Airbus market their new single-aisle jets as more fuel efficient upgrades of existing models. The CSeries has received no new orders since Republic’s order.

“Republic is a valued and loyal customer and we look forward to delivering CSeries to them,” Bombardier spokesman John Arnone said.

American International Group Inc.’s jet-leasing unit said today it will buy 100 Airbus aircraft and 33 Boeing Co. 737s, $11.8 billion in planes at list prices. International Lease Finance Corp. said its deal with Airbus consists of 75 A320neo narrow-body jets and 25 A321neo planes. That replaces a plan to buy 10 A380 superjumbo jets, which list for about $375 million each.

Airbus has won several commitments or orders for the A320neo since introducing the aircraft in December. Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo pledged in January to buy 150 of the A3230neo. Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin America Inc. said the same month that it would buy 30 of the revamped planes as well as 30 of the current model.

The Airbus A320neo comes with a geared turbofan engine built by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit and the Leap-X from CFM International, the venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA of France.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrea Rothman in Paris at aerothman@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net;

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