On the first morning of the Farnborough International Airshow 2010, on July 19, Airbus announced orders for a total of 111 A320-family aircraft from two leasing companies.
Behind only the Boeing 737 family, which has been in existence for some 20 years longer than the A320 family, the Airbus models together represent the second-highest-selling family of single-aisle jets of all time.
At Farnborough on July 19, recently formed aircraft financing and leasing company Air Lease Corporation (ALC) announced a firm order for 31 Airbus A320s and 20 A321-200s. The deal represents the first-ever order for new aircraft placed by ALC directly with a manufacturer.
Meanwhile, GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) – the largest aircraft leasing company in the world, by some margin – signed a firm order for 60 additional A320-family aircraft. This new order brings the total number of A320-family aircraft ordered by GECAS to 327 and the company’s backlog of Airbus single-aisle jets to 99 aircraft. (On July 19, GECAS also announced a separate order for 40 Boeing 737-800s at the Farnbrough show, taking its orders during the day for the two most popular families of single-aisle jets to 100 aircraft.)
ALC was established earlier this year by the company’s Chairman and CEO, Steven Udvar-Hazy, founder and former chairman and CEO of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC, which is owned by insurance giant AIG). ALC will purchase and lease commercial jet aircraft to airlines worldwide. ALC raised several billion U.S. dollars of capital to acquire modern commercial jetss and rapidly expand its portfolio of the latest-technology aircraft.
“With a wide airline customer base, and the continued global demand for replacement and growth, the A320 and the A321 are an integral part of our fleet portfolio strategy. In today’s airline world, low operating costs, fuel efficiency, environmental friendliness and maximum operating flexibility are important ingredients. The latest versions of the Airbus family of single aisle aircraft meet and exceed those high standards,” says Udvar-Hazy.
ALC will offer its customers the new fuel-saving “Sharklet” option that is available from the end of 2012 on A320 aircraft, to be followed by the A319 and A321 models from 2013. Sharklets are large wing-tip devices that will enhance the eco-efficiency and payload-range performance of the A320 family. Offered as a forward-fit option, they are expected to result in at least 3.5 per cent reduced fuel burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft.
This latest development has been part of Airbus’ larger continuous improvement programme for the A320 family, which the company supports by an annual investment in excess of 100 million euros each year.
GECAS customers will also be able to select the Sharklet option for the leasing giant’s new A320-family aircraft, which are to be delivered from the end of 2012.
“We’re pleased to announce the growth of our A320 fleet with this new order today,” says Norman Liu, president and CEO of GECAS. “We have a solid track record of placing A320s with our customer base across the world.”
“GECAS’ order is a further demonstration of the strong demand for the A320 family and underlines its attractiveness to leasing companies, who are returning to the market with full steam,” notes Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO.
Total orders for the A320 family already were at 6,563 aircraft by June 30 and the new orders by ALC and GECAS mean the single-aisle family’s orderbook total was appraching 6,700 aircraft by the first day of the Farnborough show. The 737, now in its third generation with the Next-Generation 737 family, has attracted orders for more than 8,000 aircraft.
Airbus has delivered more than 4,200 A320s and on March 9 announced it would increase its A320 production rate from December to 36 aircraft a month from the current 34-a-month rate in order to satisfy customer demand.