The Indian budget carrier IndiGo has placed an order for 180 aircrafts with Airbus for an estimated £10 billion ($15.6 billion), including the first order of revamped models, in what is termed by Airbus as the single biggest order in commercial aviation history. The deal was signed in the company’s headquarters in Toulouse.
IndiGo has ordered 30 planes of the best selling A 320s – the workhorse for medium and short haul routes and another 150 planes for an upgraded version of the A 320, which Airbus claims to be more fuel efficient and will not be available before 2016.
Airbus’s bitter rival Boeing had questioned the upgraded version of A320 saying if carriers will be interested in such a plane when completely new technology with superior performance will be available by the end of the decade.
However, the present deal will have considerable bearing on Boeing’s strategy and the American carrier may be forced to either refurbish its existing models with new engines or re-engineer its 737 model, matching Airbus’s strategy.
Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group thinks “It is a pretty strong endorsement”.
“I don’t think Boeing’s reliance on 737NG (A320’s competitor) is going to last as long as they would like”, he added.
Canadian manufacturer Bombardier was also in the race with its ‘C-series’ models, which also flies on the Same Pratt and Whitney engines that are supposed to power the new ‘A320 neo’.
“These are the sorts of orders that Bombardier should have been racking up and it shows the power of being a big manufacturer”, Aboulafia commented.
In December Airbus had launched the A320 neo models with upgraded engines by Pratt & Whitney. The new engines are said to be 15 percent more efficient, but Airbus failed to receive any orders except support from carriers.
Airbus is hoping that with fuel prices soaring to $100 per barrel, carriers will opt for the ‘neo’ even if the acquisition cost is more.