European plane manufacturer Airbus and Indonesian carrier Garuda International signed a $2.5 billion deal on Wednesday, as British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Tom Williams, an executive vice president at Airbus, signed the deal with Garuda director Emirsyah Satar. Garuda said it would purchase 11 Airbus A330-300s under the $2.5 billion deal.
Cameron, who was at the signing, said Indonesia and Britain would aim to double trade.
“I brought to Jakarta today the strongest delegation of world-leading British companies ever to visit Southeast Asia,” he said.
Cameron arrived in Indonesia at midday on Wednesday on the latest leg of his trade mission around Asia, along with a group of businessmen, as he looks to offset sluggish growth at home and in the troubled European economy.
Indonesia’s presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told AFP the deal with the airline, which is majority owned by the state, would be the “highlight” of Cameron’s two-day visit.
The agreement is the second in a year between the two after Garuda ordered 25 medium-range A320 Airbus planes for a price of $2.18 billion.
The latest deal will be a boost to Garuda as it embarks on an expansion drive less than two years after the EU lifted a ban on the airline operating in European airspace over safety fears.
It is also positive news for Airbus, which has only secured firm orders for 90 planes in the first quarter of 2012, compared with more than 400 for US rival Boeing.
Cameron said he was also interested in arms sales to Jakarta, after Britain banned defence exports to Indonesia in 1999 following accusations that British-made Hawk fighters were used in counter-insurgency attacks in East Timor, then an Indonesian province.
“Britain makes some of the best defence equipment in the world and it is reasonable that it is available to Indonesia, under the very same criteria that we apply to all our partners around the world,” Cameron told the Kompas daily before arriving, in comments reported in the Indonesian language.
Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest and fastest growing economy, and continues to make huge strides since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, emerging as the region’s most lucrative market for international plane makers.
An expanding middle class, strong growth - the economy is expected to expand 6.5 per cent this year - political stability and the need to link the resource-rich islands are fuelling a travel boom.