Although it still has 42 options and 32 purchase rights for Airbus A320s left, EasyJet has begun evaluating the latest narrowbody offerings now in the market, says Chris Essex, head of central and fleet procurement at EasyJet.

“We are now actively evaluating the reeengined Airbus [A320] NEO and Boeing [737] MAX families, as well as the Bombardier CSeries,” he said during an investor day. And, Essex adds, “we expect a combination of increased choice of suppliers and the attractiveness of an EasyJet order, given our strong balance sheet, will lead to a very competitive tender.”

Although Airbus has secured more than 1,200 firm NEO orders, and Boeing says it had commitments for around 1,000 MAX narrowbodies, Essex is not worried about slot available. “Our reading of the situation, though, is that manufacturers are not selling out their delivery slots consecutively,” he says, adding that “we still feel there is plenty of time and opportunity to place an order.”

A decision is likely to be made in the fourth quarter. The aircraft and engine programs have been under review since last year. The relative economics of the different types will now be studied in the coming months; the business case will be reviewed in the April to June timeframe, including how to bridge the 2014 timeframe to when the new aircraft are available around 2017 or 2018.

Management also is weighing other fleet plans. EasyJet has until September to exercise the 42 options it holds for classic A320s under a 2002 commitment. The airline last year exercised options for 15 aircraft.

Currently, the airline operates 167 A319s and 35 A320s, with the latter to reach 75 aircraft in 2014.