MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's biggest airline IndiGo said on Monday it had placed a $20 billion jet engine order from CFM International, a move that marks a shift away from Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N) toward its French-American rival.
CFM, owned by General Electric and France's Safran, will provide the 1LEAP-1A engines to power 280 A320neo and A321neo jetliners already on order from Airbus by the Delhi-based budget carrier.
IndiGo has an order book of 430 Airbus planes of the A320neo family, of which the first 150 aircraft were to be powered by engines from United Technologies Corp's Pratt & Whitney.
Reuters reported earlier in June that IndiGo had chosen CFM over Pratt for what was one of the largest jet engine orders and that the deal would be for more than 600 engines, including spares.
Although the Pratt engines fitted on the A320neo aircraft are fuel-efficient there have consistently been issues with them since they entered into service in 2016, forcing IndiGo to ground its planes several times.
"The CFM LEAP engine will allow IndiGo to maintain its strong focus on lowering operating costs and delivering fuel efficiency with high standards of reliability," Riyaz Peermohamed, Chief Aircraft Acquisition and Financing Officer at IndiGo, said in the statement.
The delivery of the first LEAP-1A-powered A320neo is scheduled in 2020, IndiGo said in the statement, adding that the contract with CFM includes spare engines and an overhaul support agreement as well as a long-term service agreement.
CFM introduced its LEAP engines in India around 2016. It currently has 60 such engines operational in the country.
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee and Aditi Shah, editing by Deepa Babington and Jane Merriman)