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KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 (Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines may announce a plane order of Boeing B737 MAX jets as early as Wednesday, Business Times reported, as the airline eyes a fleet expansion by adding long-range narrowbody aircraft.
The paper said on Monday Malaysia's national carrier may place a plane order that could be up to half the size of a similar deal by Vietjet Air, which purchased 100 Boeing 737 MAX 200 worth $11.3 billion at list price in May.
Malaysia Airlines declined to comment on the report but the airline's Chief Executive, Peter Bellew, told the paper that the airline was talking to Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier .
"News should be confirmed next week. (We are) looking at new and second-hand lease or buying the aircraft," he was quoted telling the paper on Friday.
The airline has called a press conference on Wednesday.
Malaysia Airlines, which is owned by state-fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has 56 Boeing 737s which have an average age of 4.1 years according to airfleet.net.
There have been suggestions in the industry that Malaysia Airlines is likely to look to replace some of these aircraft post-2020 as part of the airline's new strategy to serve more Asian routes out of Malaysia.
Malaysia Airlines, which is still trying to recover from two disasters suffered in 2014 - the disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine - could obtain the aircraft on lease to help it conserve cash, analysts have said. (Reporting by A.Ananthalakshmi; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)