Airbus receives order for 255 aircraft in first major deal since coronavirus outbreak

Airbus Commercial Aircraft President Guillaume Faury poses during the presentation of the Airbus A220-300 after it lands in Colomiers near Toulouse, France on July 10, 2018.

Regis Duvignau | Reuters

Airbus received an order for 255 new aircraft from American private equity firm Indigo Partners, the first significant deal for the company since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Indigo, founded and operated by investor Bill Franke, owns stakes in airlines including Frontier in the US, Hungarian Wizz Air, Mexican Volaris and Jetsmart in China and Argentina.

Speaking to CNBC at the Dubai Air Show, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the A321 purchase is “a very positive signal that we [are starting] be on the front lines again. “

The deal for the narrow-body airliners has not been disclosed, but is believed to be worth billions of dollars.

“This is an order that takes us into the second half of the decade – it is very important for Airbus to have visibility in the long term, to plan production as we move from Covid-19, which was [a] “limit demand in the world … which will be limited by supply,” Fori told Dan Murphy to CNBC.

The Dubai Air Show is taking place at a difficult time for aerospace companies after international air travel has been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. Countries around the world have closed their borders to foreign travelers in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and some – like the US – are just starting to open up.

The industry has dropped orders sharply, but the expected recovery in air travel is expected to boost demand in the near future. Boeing said in September that it expects demand for new aircraft to rise over the next two decades.

As such, industry observers will await any additional orders for aircraft at the air show from both Airbus and Boeing.

Changing of the climate

“Covid has changed a lot of things, but climate change is also having a big impact on how airlines move forward,” Faury said.

This year’s event has put a lot of emphasis on the sustainability of air travel as it comes on the heels of the famous. Climate Summit COP26… On Saturday, after two weeks of talks in Glasgow, Scotland, nearly 200 countries agreed on a deal to try to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis, but not everyone is sure it was successful.

Faury, however, insisted that COP26 was not a flop. “This was a very important step – a milestone,” he said.

Airbus wants to “lead the decarbonization of aviation,” Fori told CNBC.

“At Airbus, we strongly believe in hydrogen. This is the best way to keep carbon out of the air … It takes a lot of engineering, a lot of work – that’s what we are doing now. “

In September, Airbus publishes details of three hydrogen-fueled concept aircraft which are expected to be operational by 2035. The designs vary in size and style, but they are all zero-emission designs using hydrogen as their primary energy source. Airbus is showing a “mockup” of the ZEROe concept aircraft at this year’s event.

“This is not reality today,” Faury said, but added that the 2035 target is “a likely scenario”.

– Anmar Frangul from CNBC contributed to this report.

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