Low-cost airline giant AirAsia could lease at least 100 electric VX4 Evtol aircraft from Irish group Avolon.
The Dublin-based lessor said on Wednesday that the Asian airline has signed a non-binding agreement to lease "a minimum" of 100 VX4 Evtol planes made by new manufacturer Vertical Aerospace.
The Irish lessor has ordered 500 of the VX4s from Vertical, worth $2 billion (€1.76bn) in total.
Avolon invested $15 million in Vertical last year. The Irish company joined Rolls-Royce, industrial group Honeywell, American Airlines and Microsoft as a backer.
The battery-powered VX4 will carry four passengers for distances of up to 160km as an alternative to travelling by car or other means. The aircraft emit no greenhouse gas.
Founded by Irishman Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical hopes to begin commercial production in 2024 after getting European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification.
It floated on the New York Stock Exchange in December. Vertical is headquartered in Bristol in southern England, but is considering the Republic as a possible manufacturing base.
As part of the deal with the Tony Fernandes-led AirAsia, Avolon subsidiary Avolon-e will work with the airline on getting certification for the zero-emissions aircraft and researching opportunities.
The memorandum of understanding with AirAsia means it has placed up to 90 per cent of the aircraft.
Recently Avolon confirmed that Japan Airlines could take up to 100 VX4s. It has placed 250 with Gol and Grupo Comporte in Brazil.
Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon chief executive, said the company looked forward to working with “aviation pioneer Tony Fernandes”.
Mr Fernandes said Capital A, formerly AirAsia Group, was delighted to be the VX4's launch customer in southeast Asia.
Vertical chief executive Mr Fitzpatrick welcomed the news.