Airbus wins $13bn Air Asia order for new jets
Farnborough, England, July 15, 2014
Airbus clinched its first airline customer for a newly revamped model with a tentative deal with Malaysia's AirAsia for 50 A330neo wide-body jets worth over $13 billion on Tuesday.
The deal was sealed with a peck on the cheek from the French boss of Europe's largest planemaker for AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes, who told the Farnborough Airshow: "We're Airbus's largest plane customer and definitely the most loved".
The deal brings the tally of provisional orders for the upgraded and more fuel-efficient version of the A330 to more than 100 units after deals with three leasing companies.
The aircraft will be used by long-haul affiliate AirAsia X , which has long campaigned for extra fuel savings.
It is an aircraft that Airbus had not expected to make until recently but which it is gambling will put pressure on Boeing's much newer 787 Dreamliner in an order race for aircraft with 250-300 seats, ideally suited to growing intra-Asian travel.
Boeing has attacked Airbus's latest model as a rehash of tired metallic technology compared with its carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner, which also gathered new orders on Tuesday.
But Airbus and a trio of leasing company buyers said the A330 still made sense for airlines that do not need the full range capability of the 787 or its own A350, even though the smallest member of the A350 family is now sure to be axed.
KEEPING THE TILLS RINGING
The arrival of AirAsia injected sparkle into an air show dominated on its second day by financiers, who splashed out over $25 billion on bread-and-butter medium-haul, narrowbody jets as well as dozens of larger models.
Those deals involved names that mean little to most travellers but which keep the wheels turning of a $100 billion annual market for jetliners that remain in hot demand in emerging markets, as the West limps out of recession.
Confirming a Reuters report, Japanese-owned SMBC Aviation Capital signed the biggest deal of the show so far by number of units with a $12 billion order for 115 Airbus A320-family jets.
Airline deals have been few and far between at the world's largest showcase event, which coincides with growing concern about overcapacity and a string of airline profit warnings.
But leasing companies are putting their faith in steadily growing aviation traffic especially in Asia.
"We do see this as growing our business over the next 10 years," SMBC Chief Executive Peter Barrett told journalists. - Reuters