IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, plans to order as many as 50 Airbus SE A330 wide-body jets as it seeks to expand beyond short-haul flights, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The carrier aims to take the upgraded A330neo version of the plane, according the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions aren’t public. The deal would be worth $13 billion at list prices for the smaller of two variants, though some of the aircraft are likely to options to be confirmed later.

IndiGo is developing plans for long-haul flights after building up a fleet of more than 150 Airbus A320 narrow-body planes used within the region. The carrier, based near New Delhi, looked at the Boeing Co. 787 and Airbus’s larger A350 before settling on the A330neo, a re-engined model developed from an older design, the people said. Quick delivery times and the ease of retraining A320 pilots for the jet were a factor in the decision, one person said.

A sale to Indigo would come as a shot in the arm for the A330 upgrade, which Airbus developed to fill a gap at the bottom end of the wide-body market after building the A350. The plane had won 214 orders through February, compared with almost 1,500 for the original model and around 850 for the A350. All commitments are for the bigger -900 version after Hawaiian Airlines canceled a deal for six smaller -800s last month.

An order announcement from IndiGo could come as early as June, one of the people said. Representatives of the carrier didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours. A spokesman for Airbus said that the Toulouse, France-based planemaker is in regular contact with all of its customers, while declining to comment further.

IndiGo, a brand of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., has show interest in unprofitable national carrier Air India Ltd., though the budget specialist has said it intends to commence low-cost, long-distance flights with or without a takeover. The carrier still has about 400 more A320neos to come.

 

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Photo Credit: Indigo, a discount Indian airline, plans to add as many as 50 Airbus A330s, permitting it to fly longer routes. Pictured is one of the airline's A320s. Bloomberg