Mexico City (AFP) - Airbus signed Monday its biggest Latin American order from a single airline in its history, with a $5.2 billion purchase agreement for 52 aircraft with Mexican budget carrier VivaAerobus.
The deal will replace the airline's entire fleet of Boeing 737-300 planes to become an all-Airbus carrier by 2016, the European aircraft maker said in a statement.
The purchase agreement with VivaAerobus Group includes 52 Airbus A320 Family aircraft: 40 A320neo, a more fuel efficient version of the medium haul A320 and 12 A320ceo.
VivaAerobus is a partnership between Grupo IAMSA, one of Mexico's biggest transport companies, and Irelandia Aviation, whose Ryan family founded Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair.
The A320 deal was signed in Mexico City by Ryanair co-founder Declan Ryan, a vice chairman of VivaAerobus, and Airbus North America chief executive Barry Eccleston, Mexican officials said.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and visiting Irish counterpart Michael Higgins witnessed the ceremony at the National Palace along with the signing of other deals between universities and companies from both countries.
"After evaluating the latest aircraft technology with the objective of further reducing our costs, improving our reliability, punctuality and the overall passenger experience, today we are proud to announce that the Airbus A320 has been our final choice," Juan Carlos Zuazua, VivaAerobus chief executive said.
VivaAerobus would announce the engine selection at a later date, the statement said.
Zuazua said the deal would allow the airline to reduce fares and increase its domestic market, reinforcing its bases in the northern city of Monterrey, the western city of Guadalajara and the east coast resort of Cancun.
The carrier currently has one international route between Monterrey and Houston in the US state of Texas.
Six of the new aircraft are expected to arrive in Mexico in 2014, with the rest delivered gradually by 2021.Airbus had purchase agreements for 2,392 A320neo from 43 clients by the end of September.