Lion targets new airlines with Airbus jets, 2015 IPO

The head of Indonesia's Lion Air said after a placing a record Airbus order on Monday that he would use the aircraft to start up new airline ventures underpinned by strong demand in Asia.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, co-founder and chief executive Rusdi Kirana also said Indonesia's largest domestic airline would aim for a stock market listing in 2015 after suspending the project due to market volatility a year ago.

Kirana was speaking after signing an order for 234 Airbus A320 jets worth $24 billion at list prices, watched by French President Francois Hollande. The order trumps a 230-plane Boeing deal witnessed by U.S. President Barack Obama in late 2011.

"What will I do with them? I will set up new airlines in other countries, in the Asia-Pacific region," Kirana said. Lion Air, which is poised to start operations in Malaysia, has not decided whether to pursue a venture in Australia, he added.

Asked whether he intended to revive plans for an initial public offering, he said, "That is the plan, in 2015. We will use the money raised to buy more airplanes".

He dismissed concerns about Asia's ability to absorb large quantities of new aircraft such as over 200 Boeings already ordered by Lion Air and hundreds of Airbus aircraft on order from Malaysian rival AirAsia .

"People who say that don't understand the market in Asia," he said. He also rejected industry speculation that newly ordered planes would be used to set up a leasing business.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher)