The Airbus product line of commercial jetliners, military airlifters and helicopters reached new heights at this week’s Dubai Airshow with transactions and business announcements for 510 aircraft.
Validating the company’s slogan: ‘We make it fly,’ these orders and commitments involved 500 aircraft from Airbus’ single-aisle A320neo Family and two widebody A330neo jetliners (worth a combined total of $58.3 billion at list prices), along with five of the company’s multi-role C295 transports and three ‘H generation’ H160 rotorcraft.
Leading the activity was the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 430 A320neo Family jetliners negotiated by private equity firm Indigo Partners for operation by four ultra-low-cost airlines in its portfolio. This represents Airbus’ largest single commercial jetliner announcement by aircraft numbers, while setting a company record in terms of its $49.5 billion value at list prices.
All four of these carriers, located on three continents, are current A320 Family operators and will significantly increase their Airbus single-aisle fleets with aircraft from the new agreement. They are Frontier Airlines of the U.S., JetSMART of Chile, Mexico’s Volaris, and Wizz Air of Hungary.
Bill Franke, the Managing Partner of Indigo Partners and an entrepreneur who is considered an architect of the ultra-low-cost airline segment, stated the 430-aircraft MoU underscored his confidence in the Airbus A320 Family – which he said brought a “winning combination” to the bargain-fare air travel model that he helped develop.
Indigo Partners’ A320neo Family deliveries to begin in 2021
Aircraft covered by Indigo Partners’ MoU will be delivered between 2021 and 2026 – with JetSMART and Frontier each receiving initial A320neo aircraft from this agreement in 2021.
Also detailed at the Dubai Airshow was a firm order for 45 A320neo Family aircraft for CDB Aviation Lease Finance DAC. This results from the firming up of a Memorandum of Understanding announced at the 2017 Paris Air Show for 30 A320neo and 15 A321neo aircraft.
Dubai Airshow 2017 was the venue as well for an MoU signing with Golden Falcon Aviation, the exclusive aircraft provider of Wataniya Airways, involving 25 A320neo Family aircraft. The new jetliners will upgrade and enhance Wataniya Airways’ current fleet of two A320ceo aircraft that serves destinations in the Middle East and Europe from its Kuwait home base.
Another signing at Dubai was Air Sénégal’s MoU for two A330neo aircraft. With plans to launch operations in 2018, this carrier will use the A330neo jetliners to develop its medium- and long-haul network.
A new Middle East order for the C295 transport
In the military airlifter sector, Airbus announced an order during the Dubai Airshow for five C295s for the United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence. Deliveries of these medium transport aircraft are to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018. The UAE contract takes Airbus’ C295 order book past the 200-aircraft milestone.
The C295’s growing market presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – which now represents orders for 51 of the airlifters – was underscored by the participation of two aircraft at the Dubai Airshow. One was a C295 ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) version to be delivered in the coming days to Saudi Arabia; the other was Airbus’ company-owned C295, shown for the first time with a comprehensive range of weapons for armed configurations of the versatile twin-engine transport.
Completing the new business activity at Dubai Airshow 2017 was a Memorandum of Understanding that expanded Falcon Aviation’s commitment to Airbus’ new H160 medium-sized utility helicopter, adding three additional rotorcraft to an original Letter of Intent (LoI) signed in 2016. The twin-engine H160 is Airbus’ first new member of its ‘H generation’ helicopter product line, with three prototypes now in flight testing and the initial entry-into-service targeted for 2019.