Kuwait-based Aviation Lease and Finance Company (ALAFCO) has signed a memorandum of understanding for 30 Airbus A320neo-family jets and has placed a top-up firm order for six Airbus A350-900 widebodies.
ALAFCO signed its A320neo MOU and its firm A350-900 order at the 49th Le Bourget Air Show on June 22. The lessor’s A350 order is the first to be announced by Airbus at the 2011 Paris Airshow. ALAFCO hasn’t yet announced any engine selection for its A320neo-family jets.
The leasing company placed its first order for the A350 XWB in 2007, when it ordered 12 A350-800s. In 2010, ALAFCO changed its initial order to specify the larger A350-900. The A350-900 typically has a capacity of around 40 more seats than the A350-800. The new order for six more Airbus A350-900s increases ALAFCO’s total buy of the widebody type to 18.
Additionally, ALAFCO has already previously ordered 26 A320s, of which 25 have been delivered. When ALAFCO firms up its MOU for the 30 A320neo-family aircraft, the company’s total order for Airbus single-aisle aircraft will reach 56 aircraft.
Speaking about ALAFCO’s new Airbus A350-900 order, Ahmad Al Zabin, ALAFCO’s chairman and chief executive officer, says: “This order reflects a strong recovery in long haul traffic demand from our customer airlines. The A350’s position as the most fuel efficient aircraft in its class is a great asset in our aircraft portfolio.”
Meanwhile, notes Abulqasim Abdulghaffar Redha, ALAFCO’s executive vice president, “The A320neo is proving to be a very popular aircraft due to its economics and low fuel burn. We anticipate strong demand from leasing customers and we look forward to helping them meet their requirements.”
The A350 XWB (eXtra Wide-Body) family is Airbus’ response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient, medium-capacity, long-range widebody aircraft. With a range of up to 8,500 nautical miles (15,600 kilometers), it is available in three basic passenger versions: the A350-800 accommodating 270 passengers, the A350-900 seating 314 and the A350-1000 for 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts.
Just before the Paris Airshow began, Airbus admitted that it had postponed the planned entry into service of the A350-800 from 2014 to 2016 and the planned entry into service of the A350-1000 from late 2015 to mid-2017. Airbus is concentrating initially on development of the high-selling A350-900.
Additionally, Airbus has newly agreed a deal with Rolls-Royce to redesign the core of the Trent XWB version which will power the A350-1000 to increase its thrust by 5,000lb, to 97,000lb, in order to give the A350-1000 a higher maximum take-off weight and more range. Emirates and Qatar Airways, the two leading customers for the A350-1000, requested Airbus to provide slightly better performance from the aircraft.
Firm orders for the Airbus A350 XWB family are believed now to stand at 580 aircraft, with orders from at least 36 customers.