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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

Last updated on: January 12, 2011 18:19 IST

IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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In the single-largest aircraft deal in global aviation history, no-frills carrier IndiGo will acquire 180 A-320s worth an estimated $15.6 billion from European plane manufacturer Airbus.

The premier airline, which would launch international services later this year subject to government permission, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus at Toulouse in France last evening for the 180 single-aisle aircraft.

Of these planes, 150 would belong to the eco-efficient 'neo' series, which are yet to be produced, and the remaining 30 are the standard A-320s.

They are expected to be delivered between 2016 and 2025. Engine selection for the aircraft would be announced by the airline at a later date, an Airbus spokesperson said.

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Image: An IndiGo aircraft.
Photographs: Courtesy, IndiGo
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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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Though the value of the deal was not announced, but according to Airbus catalogue price the sale is worth $15.6 billion or Euro 12 billion.

"It is the largest single firm order for large jets in commercial aviation history," she said, adding it also makes IndiGo a launch customer for the A-320neo.

This is the second time that IndiGo has placed such a massive aircraft order, after its first agreement with Airbus in 2005 to buy 100 A-320s when the total order was worth $6 billion. That order, the planes under which is currently in the process of being delivered, too was one of the highest by any domestic carrier at that time.

The A-320neos would incorporate more efficient engines and large wing tip devices called Sharklets that would deliver significant fuel savings of up to 15 percent and reduce emissions and engine noise, the spokesperson said.

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Image: (Inset) Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo CEO.
Photographs: Reuters
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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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"This order for fuel efficient aircraft will allow IndiGo to continue to offer low fares," said Rahul Bhatia, group managing director of InterGlobe Enterprises that runs IndiGo, and Rakesh Gangwal, its co-founder.

IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said the additional aircraft "will enable us to take our low fares and courteous, hassle-free service to more customers and destinations and will create more job opportunities and growth for several other aviation related businesses."

The airline has already sought government's permission for launching global operations from the middle of this year when it completes five years of domestic service.

Ghosh had earlier said that the global operations would be launched to several destinations in West Asia, besides Bangkok, Singapore, Kathmandu and the Maldives.

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Photographs: Reuters
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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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IndiGo recently tipped Air India for the third position in domestic market share, after Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines respectively.

"This order positions IndiGo to take full advantage of the predicted growth in Indian air travel and we are delighted that they continue to build their future with Airbus," John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer (customers), said in a statement.

"The A320 family is the recognised market leader. The A320neo, offering maximum benefit for minimum change, will ensure that this continues to be the case for many years to come," Leahy said.

IndiGo chief Ghosh said: "Our environmentally friendly fleet of the A320neo will set a benchmark by significantly reducing the impact on the environment and lead the way to a more sustainable mode of flying."

The A-320 family of aircraft, comprising A-318s, A-319s, A-320s and A-321s, is recognized as a benchmark in the single-aisle aircraft family.

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Photographs: Reuters
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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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Over 6,800 Airbus A-320 family aircraft have been ordered and over 4,500 delivered to more than 310 customers and operators worldwide in the last two decades.

IndiGo would later decide on the engines it wants to power the A-320neos with, industry sources said.

They said the Airbus was likely to offer them and other airlines that place orders for the 'neos' a choice of the latest engine model from CFM International, a joint venture between France's Safran and General Electric of the United States, and an American Pratt & Whitney engine.

The A-320neo is Airbus' bid to counter rival aircraft such as Canada's Bombadier CSeries and China's C919, as well as the medium-haul B-737s of Boeing.

Airbus is also the manufacturer of the world's largest aircraft A-380s, which faced engine trouble in November last year when a superjumbo of the Qantas made a safe emergency landing at Singapore after its engine developed major trouble mid-air.

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Photographs: Reuters
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IndiGo to buy 180 A-320s; largest aircraft order ever

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The IndiGo deal has been dubbed as the largest aircraft deal in global aviation history in terms of number of planes ordered in a single go.

So far, the largest order in terms of number of planes include IndiGo's 100 aircraft order in 2005, a year before it started domestic operations.

Other large aircraft orders include Dubai carrier Emirates' decision to buy 32 A-380s last year at a list price of $11.5 billion, taking its total order for the superjumbo to 90.

Air India had in 2006 placed orders for 68 Boeing planes of different types, while Mideastern carrier Etihad ordered 55 planes from Airbus in 2008.


Photographs: Courtesy, IndiGo
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