Paris day 3: Airbus gathers A321XLR support as Boeing adds freighters

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June 19, 2019
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Photo: Boeing

Airbus continued to hoover up support for its A321XLR on the third day of the Paris Air Show with a memorandum of understanding that Indigo Partners and three of its airlines would acquire 50 of the single-aisle aircraft.

The announcement was in addition to up to 36 planes ordered by Qantas, 26 of which were conversions of existing A321neo orders.

The Indigo MoU included new orders for 32 A321XLRs and the conversion of 18 existing A320neo family orders.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Indigo Partners is a private equity fund that has major stakes in four low-cost airlines: US-based Frontier Airlines, JetSMART (Chile), Volaris (Mexico) and Wizz Air (Hungary).

The four carriers now operate a combined 295 Airbus planes and, with the new commitments, have 636 on order.

Twenty of the A321XLRs will be allocated to Wizz Air, 18 to Frontier, and 12 to JetSMART.

American Airlines also announced it would acquire 50 A321XLRs, converting 30 existing A320neo slots and adding an incremental order for 20 more.

Meanwhile, Boeing and China Airlines announced the airline’s intent to order up to six 777 Freighters to modernize its cargo fleet.

China Airlines plans to transition to the world’s largest and longest range twin-engine freighter as it launches operations from Taipei to North America and Europe – two key markets that provide higher yields for the carrier.

The order will be reflected on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website once it is finalized.

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“Air cargo is an important part of our overall business and the introduction of these new Boeing 777 Freighters will play an integral role in our long-term growth strategy,” said China Airlines chairman Hsieh Su-Chien.

“As we transition our Freighter fleet to the 777Fs from the older 747Fs, this will enable us to deliver world-class services to our customers more efficiently and reliably.”

Qatar Airways also announced a commitment to purchase five additional 777 Freighters valued at $JUS1.8 billion at list prices.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the deal would boost Qatar’s  777 freighter fleet by a full 20 percent, enabling it to further develop its business.

“This is an order that will propel our growth and, I firmly believe, confirm us as the leading cargo operator in the world,” he said.

Qatar Airways’ air cargo operations now serve more than 60 global destinations and it currently operates 23 freighters, including 16 Boeing 777 Freighters.

SL Aviation Holdings DAC and Boeing also signed an MoU for 20 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters.

The agreement includes 10 firm orders and 10 purchase rights.

The US manufacturer said this brought the world’s first Next-Generation 737-800 freighter conversion to 120 orders and commitments, from eight customers.

“Having operated two leased 737-800BCFs across our wide European network, we are very pleased with how the flexibility and reliability of these freighters fulfill our operational needs in meeting our customer requirements,” said Hugh Flynn, Chief Executive, ASL Aviation Holdings.

“The aircraft is highly efficient and right-sized for our developing operations on behalf of our express cargo customers who are experiencing growing demand. The 737-800BCF will also give us access to new markets.”

Turkmenistan Airlines also said it intended to add a Boeing 777-200LR to operate four of the type.

And Taiwan’s China Airlines signed a Memorandum of Agreement for 11 A321neo aircraft and will acquire another 14 aircraft of the type on lease. CAL has selected the A321neo to meet future requirements in the single-aisle category.