Emirates, the world’s biggest airline by international passenger traffic, is in talks with banks for a potential sukuk to fund its fleet expansion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The talks are at an initial stage and Emirates has yet to mandate banks on the deal. It is among several financing options being considered by the carrier, the people said, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public. The sukuk could be worth close to $1bn, according to one person. 

“With the amount of deliveries that they have, that [sukuk issuance] is definitely in the mix,’’ the second person said. 

The Dubai-based carrier had last tapped the Islamic debt market in March 2015 with a 10-year $913m sukuk, to fund the purchase of Airbus A380 super jumbo aircraft. The UK Export Finance guaranteed debt, which was 3.6 times oversubscribed, was priced at 90 basis points over the mid swap rate.

Emirates is likely to structure the potential Islamic bond along the lines of the previous deal, according to the second person.

“There are different discussions going on. They have got some unique structures they are looking at out of Europe potentially,’’ the person added.

Citigroup, HSBC, JP Morgan Securities, and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) acted as joint structuring agents and joint lead managers on the transaction. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADCB), Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Emirates NBD Capital and Standard Chartered Bank were the joint lead managers, while NCB Capital acted as co-lead manager on the deal.

The people expect Emirates to appoint the similar mix of the international, local and regional banks for the next transaction, considering the success of its previous sukuk.

Emirates spokesperson said that the company doesn’t “wish to comment on speculation and will make announcements about our financing deals when appropriate.’’

Emirates, the region’s biggest carrier, has embarked on a fleet expansion programme to turn Dubai into an aviation hub for long-haul flights across the globe. It is servicing 144 cities in 81 countries through 231 aircraft, the world’s largest fleets of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aeroplanes. It has added 24 new aircraft during 2014-15 financial year to its fleet and carried 49.3 million passengers during the same period, according to Emirates Group’s latest annual report on its website.

Emirates has been on the forefront in establishing Dubai as the tourism and commercial hub of the Middle East. Dubai International Airport (DIA) become the busiest in the world, surpassing London’s Heathrow in 2014. It handled 78.01 million passenger in 2015, a 10.7 per cent increase from a year earlier.