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Airbus wins $60bn of deals as seduces with new 'neo' plane

Update: July, 16/2014 - 10:58

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom – European aircraft maker Airbus has racked up orders for its new long-haul A330neo plane, as airlines and leasing companies cash in on demand for cheap long-haul air travel.

Launched on Monday at the Farnborough airshow near London, Airbus has won commitments for 105 of its neo planes, surpassing its original target of 100 at the key industry event with several days still to go.

"I think this is going to be a remarkable plane," said Tony Fernandes, co-founder of low-cost airline AirAsia X, which on Tuesday signed an outline deal for 50 of the planes valued at $13.75 billion (10.11 billion euros) at catalogue prices.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier said the A330neo's lower fuel consumption, long-range capability and competitive price will make it "a true game changer" for the aviation industry.

Also on Tuesday, US leasing company CIT said it planned to buy 15 A330-900neo planes and Dublin-based lessor Avolon said it had signed a memorandum of understanding for 15 of the aircraft.

Air Lease Corporation on Monday announced a similar deal for 25 of the wide-body neo planes.

In total, Airbus said it had sealed orders and commitments for almost 400 of its planes worth more than $60 billion during the first two days of the show – far outpacing US rival Boeing.

But Airbus also hit a bump on Tuesday when Qatar Airways said it will claim compensation because of the delayed delivery of its first A380 superjumbo, without giving further details.

Qatar Airways expected to take delivery of the super-jumbo in June but the order has been delayed several times.

Chief executive Akbar al-Baker said there were problems with both the interior and exterior of the aircraft, which were "absolutely disappointing to Qatar Airways."

Leasing firms buy Boeing

On Tuesday, Boeing said it had won a number of orders for its passenger planes from American leasing companies potentially worth a total of about $10.0 billion. Boeing, ahead of the show, raised its forecast for industry aircraft sales over the next two decades to $5.2 trillion, driven largely by demand from low-cost carriers.

Air Lease Corporation has ordered 26 Boeing jets in a deal valued at $3.9 billion.

Air Lease is buying six long-haul 777-300ER jets and has confirmed an order for 20 single-aisle 737 MAX 8 planes.

"Additional 777-300ER and 737 MAX airplanes in our portfolio provide the economics and passenger-pleasing experiences our airline customers require," said Air Lease chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy.

"The 737 MAX represents game-changing efficiencies and improvements for the environment in the single-aisle market," he added. Boeing added that CIT had ordered 10 787-9 Dreamliners, valued at $2.5 billion at current list prices.

"These aircraft will add to our growing fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft that remain in high demand from our airline customers," said Jeff Knittel, president of CIT Transportation & International Finance.

Intrepid Aviation meanwhile ordered six 777-300ERs and has an option to buy four more in a deal worth about $3.2 billion, Boeing said on Tuesday. Brazilian group Embraer, the world's third-largest commercial planemaker, has won orders worth billions of dolars for its regional jets at Farnborough, including its new single-aisle E195-E2 jets.

F-35 at Farnborough?

Organisers of the show were still hoping for an appearance by the F-35 fighter jet after the US fleet on Tuesday won clearance to fly again following an engine fire that left it grounded.

"We remain hopeful that the F-35 can make an appearance at the Farnborough air show," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby.

The new warplane, touted as a technical wonder that will form the core of America's future fighter fleet, missed a British military aviation event over the weekend and the first day of Farnborough.

At nearly $400 billion, the F-35 is the most expensive weapons programme in US history and officials are eager to reassure foreign partners and potential customers that it remains on course. —AFP

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