An order worth $9.4 billion for 100 Airbus short-haul aircraft has been made by AirAsia.

The deal makes the Far East budget carrier the European manufacturer’s largest airline customer by number of planes ordered.

The agreement for 64 fuel-efficient A320neos and 36 A320s comes on top of 375 similar aircraft already ordered by the airline.

Chief executive Tony Fernandes said: “We have just bought 100 planes which makes a total of 475, to meet the amazing demand in Asia.”

Fernandes said that he was buying the new A320s mainly to grow the AirAsia fleet, rather than to replace old aircraft.

The deal is worth $9.4 billion at list prices but in practice aircraft are sold at significant discounts, Reuters reported. It will safeguard 9,000 British jobs including 1,500 at Airbus itself.

The order had already been included in the Airbus books without the name of the buyer being identified.