Airbus bags 269 firm aircraft orders at the Dubai Airshow as the planemaker seeks to ramp up production in the post-pandemic recovery.
The European company also received 139 commitments, including a launch customer for the long-awaited A350 freighter.
The Dubai Airshow 2021 was the first major international aerospace trade show to return following the COVID-19 pandemic, which ran from 14 to 18 November, ending on Thursday.
On the opening day of the air show, Indigo Partners portfolio airlines – a private firm which sells aircraft to multiple low-cost carriers – placed a firm order of 255 A321neo aircraft, including 29XLR.
Under the firm, European carrier Wizz Air ordered 102 aircraft, United States-based Frontier ordered 91, Mexican airline Volaris ordered 39 aircraft and Chilean airline JetSMART ordered 23.
The significant order brings the total number of aircraft ordered by the firm to 1,145 of the A320 family, Airbus says.
The second day of the air show saw Air Lease Corporation sign a commitment for 111 aircraft, including ordering seven A350 freighter jets.
The A350 freighter is slated to enter service in 2025 and sources alluded to Bloomberg only days earlier that Air Lease Corp would become the launch customer.
The cargo aircraft would compete against Boeing’s 777 freighter to steal back some share of the Boeing-dominated market.
The lessor also ordered 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs and four A330neos at the air show.
“ALC was the launch customer for the very popular A321LR and XLR versions. Now, we become the launch lessor for the A350F and by far the largest lessor customer for the A220,” said Steven F Udvar-Hazy, executive chairman of Air Lease Corporation.
The company said the order was in response to demand for freight as it continues to steer the recovery.
Airbus said during the air show it expects cargo demand – which has been boosted by e-commerce – will see an expected growth of 4.7 per cent per year.
It forecasts over the next 20 years that 2,440 freighters will be in demand and 880 of which will be new build.
On the third day, Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways also committed to 28 A321neos, set to double its current fleet size to 35 aircraft by 2026, according to the company’s chairman Marwan Boodai.
Nigeria’s Ibom Air which began operations in 2019 placed an order of 10 Airbus A220 jets, expecting deliveries to commence in the first quarter of 2023.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury said Airbus is slated to increase production to 65 single-aisle jets per month by summer 2023 and is asking suppliers to look at potential rates of 70 in 2024, and 75 in 2025, according to Reuters.
“We are in the phase of assessing demand,” Faury told Reuters in an interview at the air show.
In May, the company expected by the fourth quarter of 2021 that the A320 family production rate would be at 45 per month.
“What happened (in Dubai) is important, because together with other prospects or deals to come, it gives substance and … evidence that the demand we see for rate 70, 75 will be sustained for many years.”
Airbus is expected to pen production rates by the middle of 2022, but no decisions have been made as of yet.