Airbus announced the biggest commercial-plane deal in its history, securing an order valued at nearly $50 billion for 430 planes from its single-aisle A320neo line and dramatically overshadowing the deals won by Boeing.
The pact with US investor Indigo Partners gives Airbus the upper hand at the Dubai Air Show, where it has been trailing its US rival in orders.
The purchase would also mark a crowning achievement for Airbus sales chief John Leahy, who is set to retire after a multi-decade career in which he built an order book for thousands of aircraft and lifted the European planemaker into a duopoly position with its US rival.
For Indigo Partners, led by Bill Franke, the Airbus deal provides upgraded single-aisle jetliners to boost the fleets of ultra-low-cost carriers from Denver to Budapest. The aircraft will go to airlines in Indigo’s investment portfolio: Frontier Airlines, Mexico’s Volaris, European carrier Wizz Air Holdings Plc and upstart JetSmart, which began operating this year in Chile.
The deal includes 273 A320neo jets and 157 of the larger A321neo variant. Based on the list price of the A320neo, Airbus’s best-selling single-aisle jet, the purchase is worth $49.5 billion before customary discounts.
Even with a massive haul from Indigo, Airbus may not be done at the Dubai event. Other mooted orders may still materialise on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter have said, including an accord with EgyptAir Airlines for A320neo single-aisle aircraft and one with discount carrier FlyDubai. The latter is weighing an order for as many as 175 narrow-body planes that could be split between the A321neo and Boeing’s 737 Max.
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