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Airbus strikes second major aircraft deal of Dubai Airshow

Airbus clinched a major deal on Monday valued into the billions of dollars to sell 111 new aircraft to the Air Lease Corporation, its second blockbuster order at the Dubai Airshow.

Air Lease, the Los Angeles-based jet financing and leasing company, added to its expanding fleet with 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321 XLRs, four A330neos and seven A350Fs.

At Airbus’ pre-pandemic list prices, the order would exceed $15 billion, although major deals typically see manufacturers offer significant discounts to buyers. The company did not provide any details on the sale price.

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 An Airbus A350 XWB aircraft performs a demonstration flight at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. AFP

The sale of the European plane maker’s new twin-engine A350 freighter is seen as a direct challenge to Boeing’s long-haul 787 Dreamliner, which has suffered repeated production troubles.

The Dubai Airshow pits the two major manufacturers against each other in the crucial Mideast market filled with long-haul carriers connecting East and West. American rival Boeing has yet to announce a major sale at the show.

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 Two Emiratis stand next to an Acropolis Aviation Airbus A320-251N aircraft while in the background is seen another Emirates Airbus A380 jet. AFP

When asked by a journalist if Airbus was breaking into Boeing’s profitable market share, Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer demurred, saying, “That’s a bit violent.”

“What we’re doing is responding to the invitation for competition from the market,” he added.

On the opening day of the aviation expo, Airbus booked the sale of 255 new aircraft to Indigo Partners’ various low cost carriers — a deal valued at some $30 billion, based on the pre-pandemic price list.

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 A Russian Helicopter Kamov Ka-52 on the tarmac at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. AFP

At a press conference held as a daredevil flying display roared outside, high-level executives of Airbus and Air Lease heralded their commitment as proof of surging demand and the ravaged aviation industry’s comeback.

“The end of the COVID crisis wants to install itself upon us,” proclaimed Scherer.

The Dubai Airshow sees a stream of order and product announcements over its five days. Nigeria’s Overland Airways also signed a $299 million contract for three E175 jets from Embraer, Brazil’s iconic plane manufacturer, to be delivered from 2023, along with three purchase rights for the same model.

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