Airbus has struck its biggest single deal with an order for 430 aircraft worth $49.5bn at list prices from US investment firm Indigo Partners.
Indigo, whose interests include Europe’s Wizz Air, US-based Frontier, and Mexico’s
Volaris, will buy Airbus’s A320neo family of aircraft. The order on the penultimate day of the Dubai Airshow comes after what could have been a difficult week for Airbus.
Earlier in the month, Emirates appeared to snub Airbus over an A380 superjumbo deal.
The Airbus aircraft, whose wings are made in the UK, will be deployed across Indigo’s airlines, which also includes JetSmart in Chile. The Indigo deal more than doubles Airbus’s existing order book for the year, which stood at about 290 aircraft as of the end of October.
Bombardier’s sales chief has sought to reassure UK staff over the Canadian plane maker’s alliance with Airbus. Fred Cromer, President of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft division, said last month’s surprise announcement that Airbus would take control of its C-Series aircraft ‘would only strengthen Bombardier’.
The aerospace and rail company employs 4,000 people in Belfast, with about 1,000 making C-Series wings. Speaking at the Dubai Airshow, he said the Airbus deal meant higher production and “more wings coming out of Belfast”.
“My message to all employees on the C-Series programme, and certainly in Belfast, is to keep doing what you’re doing. You are producing in Belfast amazing wing technology.”
Airbus is to expand its production plant in Alabama, which will increase US content of the aircraft and help cut costs. Mr Cromer said this move was “about increasing volume of the aircraft, and that should make people feel good in Belfast”.
The Alabama expansion would create more jobs at Bombardier, he said. “It is not a replacement of jobs. The US production line will give us bigger volume and give us access to the US marketplace.”
Bombardier has reported a 20% increase in the transportation arm of its business in results released earlier this month. The firm has announced an order for 61 C-Series aircraft, including 31 from a European operator.
“This was a very exciting quarter for Bombardier as we welcomed Airbus to the C-Series program,” said Alain Bellemare, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier. “This is a game-changing step for Bombardier. It positions the C-Series program for long-term commercial success and will generate new and sustainable value for our customers, suppliers and shareholders.”
“We also continue to make solid progress executing our turnaround plan, and are very much on track to achieve the goals we set out in November 2015,” Bellemare continued. “We have clearly demonstrated our ability to reduce costs, improve productivity and grow margins. We have executed on our growth programs and we are taking big strategic steps necessary to unlock the full value of our portfolio.”