Airbus revealed its largest single announcement ever this morning - a $49.5 billion deal with Indigo Partners to purchase 430 aircraft in its A320neo family, described as Airbus' largest ever single announcement.
The preliminary deal for A320neo-family narrowbody jets was signed at the Dubai Airshow and offers a major boost to Airbus, which has lagged arch-rival Boeing in orders this year. The airlines that use the aircraft will include Frontier Airlines, JetSMART of Chile, Volaris of Mexico and Wizz Air of Hungary.
Though Boeing has dominated the show from the start, Airbus could not be written off, as Airbus sales chief John Leahy, known to be a veteran of last-minute air show surprises, was planning a blockbuster climax to a 20 plus year stint as marketing boss.
This year, however, Airbus's share of the order tally had dropped to 35 percent before the Dubai show, with a rejuvenated Boeing management having made advances in Singapore and elsewhere.
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The deal with veteran airline investor Bill Franke is expected to roil the low-priced industry and add another twist to the race between Airbus and Boeing for plane orders.
Airbus' previous biggest-ever sale came in August 2015, when it sold 250 A320neos to Indian budget airline IndiGo, a deal estimated to be worth $26 billion at list prices. He said: "It's gratifying that [this order] comes from a group of airline professionals who know our products as well as the folks at Indigo Partners do".
Airbus employees even filled a news conference on Sunday, expecting the A380 sale, instead to find state-owned Emirates making the deal with Boeing in front of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. FlyDubai said the planes would bring the low-priced carriers total fleet on order up to 320.
And Boeing continues to enjoy a commercially successful Dubai Air Show with its smaller planes as well.
The Boeing 787 will give Emirates a level of flexibility and economy that its larger Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 fleet could not approach. It has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet today and took possession of its 100th A380 earlier this month.