Airbus Group booked an order for three A380 superjumbo aircraft with a combined value of $1.28bn at list prices, breaking a drought in sales of the world’s biggest passenger jet.
The contract, revealed in year-end data on delivery and order tallies published yesterday, was placed last month by a single, new customer, Airbus said. Fabrice Bregier, chief executive officer of the company’s plane making arm, said the buyer “has asked to remain undisclosed” for now.
All Nippon Airways Co, Japan’s biggest airline, has agreed to purchase three A380s for use on Tokyo-Hawaii services, a person familiar with the plan said this month. Both the carrier and Airbus declined to comment at the time.
The new contract for Airbus’s flagship model delivers a vote of confidence in an aircraft that hadn’t won a new airline customer in three years, with the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer locked in discussions with No 1 buyer Emirates of Dubai over whether it should upgrade the jet to extend its lifespan.
Airbus’s 2015 data also reveals that it suffered a cancellation for one existing A380 contract, leaving it with two net orders for the year, still the lowest total in at least a decade. The plane maker delivered 27 double-deckers, so that that the backlog was depleted to 140 planes in the course of 2015.
“We’re making progress in marketing the A380 to customers, but it’s an aircraft that takes time,” John Leahy, Airbus’s sales chief, said in Paris, adding that orders are not simply a matter of seat economics and that the company is working with airlines to help them with the brand-positioning of the plane.
Airbus comfortably trumped Boeing in overall orders across its model lineup, securing a net 1,036 in the year compared with 768 at its US rival, where the tally slumped 46%, according to a statement last week. Boeing remained the world’s biggest plane maker, with 762 deliveries versus 635 at Airbus.
Bregier said on Bloomberg Television that Airbus isn’t overly concerned about China’s economy and that carriers in the country are still clamouring for aircraft, with the biggest challenge facing the company being the ramp-up of A350 wide-body production and introduction of the re-engined A320neo series.
ANA will take delivery of its A380s from 2018, another person said this month. The order could be increased should the planes prove effective will form just a piece of a larger strategic plan, to be unveiled at the end of January, calling for fleet renewal, they said.
The A380, which typically seats about 525 passengers, but can carry over 800 depending on the configuration, has suffered a decline in airline interest as carriers have come to favour somewhat smaller twin-aisle models, including Airbus’s A350 and Boeing’s 777.
In November at the Dubai Air Show, Airbus’s Leahy said that two potential customers were considering orders for the superjumbo.
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