“NEO” has been the operating word for Airbus at the Paris Air Show 2019. Having launched its brand-new A321XLR jet, the longest range variant of the A320 Family, the company has not only racked up 226 demand for the new plane, but also expanded the A320 NEO orders and commitments to just over 250 worldwide.
The biggest deals and commitments
The biggest order for Airbus came on the very first day of the airshow, June 17, 2019, from Air Lease Corporation (ALC). The Los Angeles-based aircraft leasing company, signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for 100 Airbus jets, comprising of 27 A321XLRs and an incremental order for 23 A321neos. The company also ordered 50 A220-300s.
Also using the opportunities of the airshow, Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, expanded its existing A320neo Family order from 35 to 100 Neo aircraft, including 35 options. Saudia’s additional firm order for 65 A320neo Family planes incorporates 15 for the XLR version.
Then came the Arizona-based private equity fund Indigo Partners: the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to purchase 50 A321XLR. The deal includes new orders for 32 A321XLR jets and the conversion of 18 existing A320neo Family orders.
The new aircraft will be operated by Indigo Partner’s three of four low-cost airlines: Wizz Air (Hungary) will 20 XLRs; 18 will go to Frontier Airlines (U.S.); and to 12 to JetSMART (Chile). Indigo Partners also has ownership stakes in Volaris (Mexico). The four carriers operate a combined 295 Airbus planes, Airbus orders and deliveries log, ending May 31, 2019, shows.
Joining in on the hype surrounding the A321XLR, U.S. giant American Airlines also inked a deal to acquire 50 of the newly-launched aircraft. The purchase agreement includes the conversion of 30 of American’s existing A321neo orders to the new XLRs as well as incremental orders for additional 20 XLR jets.
Meanwhile, the biggest conversion deal was signed with Air Asia (Malaysia) – the carrier decided to convert its 253 outstanding A320neo orders to the larger A321neo version. With that, the airline becomes the world’s largest customer for the A321neo: in total, AirAsia has placed orders for 592 A320 Family planes and taken delivery of 224 of them.
Keeping up with the big boys
Lebanese flag carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA), was quick to place a firm order for four XLRs on the first day of the airshow, becoming the launch airline customer for the new aircraft for now.
The following day, Philippines-based Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Cebu Pacific became another launch customer for the new aircraft by signing a MoU for 31 Airbus planes: 16 A330neos, 10 XLRs and five A320neo jets.
Also at the Paris Airshow was the Qantas Airways, which stepped in with a deal for 36 XLR jets: the Australian carrier decided to convert 26 of its existing A320neo Family orders and place a new firm order for 10 XLRs.
China Airlines (CAL) opted for 25 A321neos, signing a MoU for 11 of these jets; the other 14 will be added on lease. Similarly, the Dublin-based leasing company Accipiter Holdings signed a purchase agreement to acquire 20 A320neos.
At Le Bourget, JetBlue Airways decided to add the XLR and increase its existing order for A220s: the U.S. low-cost carrier will convert 13 current A321neo orders into firm orders for the new XLR version; the airline also firmed up an order for an additional 10 A220-300 aircraft from existing options.
Aside of announcing intent to buy 200 Boeing 737 MAX, on the very same day, International Airlines Group (IAG) also placed a firm order for 14 A321XLRs. The planes are destined to go to the group’s subsidiaries: eight planes for Iberia (Spain) and six for Aer Lingus (Ireland).
Following Saudia’s order, Flynas, Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost airline, inked a MoU for 10 XLRs. The airline will also upsize 10 of the A320neo it currently has on order to the A321neo. Aiming modestly, Atlantic Airways, Faroe Islands flag carrier, closed a purchase agreement for two A320neo jets.