JAKARTA — A new rivalry between the world's biggest plane makers is heating up in Indonesia after a record deal for Airbus in a market with huge potential that until now has been a "fortress" for Boeing.
The European company in the past consistently lost contracts to its U.S. rival in Southeast Asia's top economy, but budget carrier Lion Air's 18.4-billion-euro (US $23.8 billion) order last week for 234 medium-haul Airbus jets may be a game-changer in the feud for market share.
"This is a major deal for Airbus because, generally, Indonesia has been a fortress for Boeing," Ravi Madavaram, an aerospace analyst for Frost & Sullivan in Kuala Lumpur, said.
"I think the moment Airbus comes into the picture, more and more low-cost carriers will want an Airbus A320. Then it becomes challenging for Boeing to catch up."
Lion Air's A320 deal with Airbus was the most valuable commercial order booked in history. The second-biggest was also made by Lion Air in 2011, in a $22.4 billion order for 230 Boeing jets.
The two plane makers have a duopoly over the large-airliner market and competition between them is fierce, with each regularly accusing the other of anti-competitive behavior.
Boeing last year overtook Airbus as the world's biggest plane maker in terms of aircraft delivered for the first time in 10 years.
"Lion Air was in fact one of the few airlines in the region that had never ordered an aircraft from Airbus. But we never gave up," Jean-Francois Laval, executive vice president of sales for Airbus Asia, said.
"We have not exactly been absent from Indonesia. The new order from Lion Air will significantly increase our presence in the important Indonesian market."