RPT-UPDATE 2-Brazil airline Azul to order Airbus wide-body jets -sources
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By Tim Hepher and Brad Haynes
PARIS/SAO PAULO, April 22 (Reuters) - Azul Linhas Aereas, Brazil's third-biggest airline, is set to announce a fleet expansion on Wednesday including an order for its first wide-body aircraft from European planemaker Airbus, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.
The order vaults Azul, which is controlled by JetBlue Airways Corp founder David Neeleman, into the international market with long-range jets challenging regional heavyweight Latam Airlines Group SA.
Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing Co battle intensely for such orders. Airbus recently offered deep discounts on its wide-body A330 to tempt lower-cost airlines away from Boeing's more modern 787 Dreamliner.
Airbus and Boeing officials declined to comment on the matter. Azul announced it would hold a press conference on Wednesday but offered no details of the announcement.
Missing out on a major deal from Brazil's fastest-growing airline would be the second big blow to Boeing since December in a key emerging market where it has been ramping up its presence.
Swedish planemaker Saab AB snagged a coveted $4.5 billion fighter jet contract with Brazil's air force at the end of last year after news of U.S. spying on Brazilians helped derail Boeing's chances for the deal.