Airbus clinches biggest order in its history

Ethiopian Airlines continues to build up its fleet to meet rising demand on back of a rapidly growing economy and population in Africa. Tiksa Negeri  Reuters

Airbus clinches biggest order in its history

Airbus is due to announce the sale of 430 of its medium-range A320 family of aircraft to USA investment firm Indigo Partners in a deal worth more than $40 billion, a source said Wednesday. It was one of the industry's biggest deals by volume and the most planes ever sold by Airbus in one batch.

The airline had announced orders for 288 planes as of the end of October. 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. To put it in perspective, a single airline with 430 planes would rank among the 10 largest carriers on the planet. Buyers typically receive discounts of 40% to 60% on the list prices, but can get even bigger reductions for really huge deals.

The Indigo Partners order is the single largest order by number of aircraft than any individual plane maker has received.

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.

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In a statement, the Hungarian LCC said that while deliveries will start in 2022, the bulk of this order's aircraft will be delivered in 2025 and 2026, following on from the delivery of the 110 Airbus A321neo aircraft ordered by Wizz Air in 2015. It will also be seen as a coup for outgoing sales head John Leahy, who is due to retire this year - especially as long-running talks with Emirates to sell more of its flagship A380 superjumbos have so far failed to produce a deal.

The deal was worth $49.5 billion at list prices.

Leahy, a smooth-talking New Yorker, became a famous thorn in the side of Boeing and other Airbus rivals during his more than 20 years in the job.

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