PARIS - Korean Air split a US$6.9 billion (S$9.3 billion) order for narrow-body jets between rival planemakers Airbus and Boeing at the Paris air show on Tuesday as it looks to renew its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.
Korean Air unveiled a firm order worth US$3.7 billion (S$5 billion) at list prices for 30 Airbus A321neo planes, the first time the Asian carrier has bought single-aisle jets from the European manufacturer. It also took options on 20 more of the aircraft.
The airline said deliveries would start in 2019.
It also announced an intention to buy 30 737 MAX 8 planes from Boeing worth US$3.2 billion at list prices, with the possibility to convert them to the larger MAX 9 model.
The carrier also committed to buy two additional 777-300ER extended-range wide-body jets worth $660 million, and took options to buy a further 20 737 MAX planes.
Boeing said it was working with Korean Air to finalise the order, at which point it would be added to its online order book. Korean Air becomes a new customer for the Boeing 737 MAX.
Korean Air first ordered wide-body planes from Airbus back in 1974, but has not bought narrow-body jets from the group before. "Throughout our long partnership, the one thing we were missing was to place single-aisle," Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of Airbus, said.
"We have finally prevailed." Korean Air's chairman, Cho Yang Ho, also said the carrier was "very seriously" evaluating the A350, Airbus's newest wide-body jet, but that the airline first wanted to see more performance data.