Montreal, Canada - Ethiopia's flag carrier Ethiopian Airlines and Mexican low-cost operator Interjet are in talks with Airbus for the purchase of A220 jets.
Mexico's regional carrier Interjet has recently announced that it would end its operations with the Russian-made SSJ100s due to the lack of spare parts and replacement engines.
The airline is reportedly in talks with the European aircraft manufacturer for 12 Airbus A220 jetliners to replace its partially grounded SSJ100 fleet. Interjet is one of the first customers of the aircraft that entered into service in 2011.
But, due to prolonged groundings and technical issues such as engine failures and lack of spare parts, only five Interjet SSJ100 out of 22 are airworthy.
Airbus and Interjet did not officially confirm the negotiations for the sale of 12 A220 jets.
Airbus no longer publishes list prices of its planes, but such an order would be worth around $1 billion.
Another operator Ethiopian Airlines would also be close to placing an order with the European aircraft manufacturer for Airbus 20 A220 that is worth around $1.6 billion.
According to sources who spoke to Bloomberg, the negotiations between Airbus and Ethiopian Airlines are at the final stage and to be finalized by the end of this year.
"It's a good airplane and we have been studying it long enough," African carrier's chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said.
The A220 would be the Ethiopian flag carrier's first order since the fatal 737 MAX crash on March 10, which killed 157 people.
Ethiopian is Africa's biggest airline with 120 aircraft in its fleet. The carrier also has 53 more modern planes on order, including 11 Airbus A350-900, nine De Havilland Dash-8, six Boeing 787-900 and 27 Boeing 737 MAX 8.
The Ethiopian CEO, however, said Ethiopian Airlines would be the last to resume operations with the 737 MAXs that have been grounded after the second fatal crash.
It's only natural for us to be the last one to decide on the Max,
the chief executive said.
If we're convinced the problems are fully addressed, and that the re-certification is done in a collaborative manner with all regulators, then we will take the time, effort and energy to convince our pilots, crew, and passengers that the aircraft is safe to get back in the air,