Airbus announces biggest ever aircraft deal

The aircraft will be allocated among low-cost airlines Frontier Airlines, JetSMART, Volaris and Wizz Air

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, Business Reporter

Airbus is to sell 430 jets to airline owner Indigo Partners in a deal worth $49.5bn (£38bn) – described as the manufacturer's largest ever.

The European aircraft maker – which employs about 6,000 people at its wing assembly plant in Broughton, north Wales – announced at the Dubai air show that it had signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase.

It includes 273 A320neo and 157 A321neo jets that will be used by four airlines controlled by Indigo – US-based Frontier Airlines, Chile's JetSMART, Volaris of Mexico and WizzAir of Hungary.

The $49.5bn headline price of the deal reflects the list value of the individual aircraft – often negotiated lower in large transactions – and the actual price to be paid was not revealed.

Indigo Partners says 146 of the new aircraft will be used by low cost airline Wizz Air
Indigo Partners says 146 of the new aircraft will be used by low cost airline Wizz Air

Airbus' previous biggest ever deal came in August 2015 when it sold 250 A320neos to Indian budget airline IndiGo, worth $26bn at list prices.

The latest announcement is seen as a big turnaround for Airbus, which had been lagging behind US rival Boeing.

At the weekend, Boeing announced a $15bn deal with Emirates, thwarting hopes that the Middle East airline was to unveil a purchase of Airbus A380 aircraft.

Bill Franke, managing partner at Indigo, said: "This significant commitment for 430 additional aircraft underscores our optimistic view of the growth potential of our family of low-cost airlines, as well as our confidence in the A320neo family as a platform for that growth."

John Leahy, chief operating officer at Airbus, said: "An order for 430 aircraft is remarkable."

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