Airbus SE announced the biggest commercial-plane deal in its history, securing an order valued at nearly $50 billion for 430 planes from its single-aisle A320neo line.
The deal with veteran airline investor Bill Franke is expected to roil the low-cost industry and add another twist to the race between Airbus and Boeing for plane orders.
Franke, whose Phoenix-based Indigo Partners controls Frontier Airlines and owns part of Mexico's Volaris, flew to the UAE today to sign the deal at the Dubai Airshow, marking one of the industry's biggest ever deals by volume, two people familiar with the matter said, Reuters reported.
According to commentators, the deal marked a dramatic turnaround for Airbus, which had been lagging behind Boeing in the contest for orders so far this year and had a bad start to the 12 -16 November air show.
Though Boeing has dominated the show from the start, Airbus could not be written off, as Airbus sales chief John Leahy, known to be a veteran of last-minute air show surprises, was planning a blockbuster climax to a 20 plus year stint as marketing boss.
Leahy is set to retire in the coming months after serving as sales chief for the European planemaker since 1994.
Four companies in Indigo's investment portfolio: Frontier Airlines, Mexico's Volaris, European operator Wizz Air Holdings Plc and upstart JetSmart, will receive the planes. JetSmart started operations this year in Chile.
The deal involves 273 A320neo jets together with 157 of the larger A321neo variant and is worth $49.5 billion before customary discounts, according to Airbus. Leahy, 67, termed the transaction ''remarkable,'' while Franke, 80, who co-founded Indigo in 2002, said it underscored his confidence in the A320 and the bargain fares, no-frills travel model he helped develop.
Airbus shares shot as much as 3.9 per cent and were trading 3.7 per cent higher at €86.67 as of 9:06 am. in Paris, taking the gain this year to 38 per cent.