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Indonesia's Lion Air poised to roar ahead in Southeast Asia's crowded low cost airline market

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Indonesia’s top discount carrier, which catapulted into the global aviation spotlight with record deals to buy Airbus and Boeing planes, is taking the battle for Asia’s budget-minded travellers to the backyard of the airline that helped pioneer low cost flights in the region.

Lion Air, hardly known beyond Indonesia until giving Boeing and Airbus their biggest orders ever, made its first foray outside its home market with the launch Friday of Malindo Air in Malaysia. That’s the base of AirAsia, which dominates cheap travel in the region.

Lion Air inked a $24 billion deal this week to buy 234 Airbus planes, the biggest order ever for the French aircraft maker. It also gave Boeing its largest-ever order when it finalized a deal for 230 planes last year.