The opening of the Farnborough International Airshow kicked off a “new” day for Airbus with the company highlighting its new engine option (NEO) single-aisle and widebody aircraft, as well as announcing new orders and unveiling its latest global market forecast.
“Xtra, Xtra”: New commercial activity
The day’s commercial activity further reinforced this trend toward modern and fuel-efficient aircraft, with firm orders and announcements for 15 A350 XWB – “Xtra widebody” – Family aircraft, up to four A330neos, 10 A320ceos, and one A321.
Virgin Atlantic Airways captured early attention on the show’s first morning with an order for 12 A350-1000 aircraft, the largest member of the A350 XWB Family. This comprises eight directly purchased and four more on lease from Air Lease Corporation – with deliveries beginning in 2019.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, praised the aircraft’s environmental benefits, operating efficiency and advanced construction, which includes more than 50 percent composite material in its airframe. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful plane,” he said. “Virgin Atlantic has been around for some 30 years, and I think the A350 will ensure that it is around in 30 years’ time.”
Announcements for aircraft from Airbus’ A320, A330 and A350 XWB product lines
The UK-based airline revealed its order at a special media event, which followed the arrival of Branson, Fabrice Brégier, President and Chief Executive Office of Airbus, and other top management of both companies on-board one of Airbus’ in-house developmental A350 XWB aircraft.
Los-Angeles-based aircraft leasing company Air Lease Corporation (ALC) added to the A350 XWB orders at Farnborough with the announcement of a firm order for three A350-900s, as well as one A321. These aircraft will help ALC meet the market demand for modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, and bring its total orders for Airbus aircraft to 267.
Other Day 1 commercial activity included a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam’s JetStar Pacific Airlines for 10 A320ceo (current engine option); and an announcement that ARKIA Israeli Airlines will receive up to four A330-900neo aircraft, making it the first Airbus widebody customer in Israel.
Mapping demand: Looking to the future
During a briefing at the Farnborough Airshow, Airbus unveiled its latest Global Market Forecast, titled “Mapping Demand” – which covers the 2016-2035 timeframe.
According to the report, Airbus latest projection foresees a 4.5 percent annual worldwide rate of air traffic growth over this time period that will require some 33,000 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft valued at $US 5.2 trillion.
The strong growth is fuelled by the rising demand in emerging markets, which contain middle classes that are expected to double over the next 20 years to a total size of 3.5 billion people. “The world population is getting wealthier, and it is getting more disposable income,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer – Customers, during the briefing to international media. “That is driving demand for air traffic.”
Airbus also foresees a trend towards higher-capacity aircraft, with a requirement for over 9,500 widebody and freighter aircraft over the next two decades – valued at some US$ 2.8 trillion. This total represents 29 percent of all new aircraft deliveries, and 54 percent by value.
In the single-aisle aircraft market, where Airbus’ A320 Family and latest-generation A320neo Family are firmly established as global leaders, the company forecasts a need for over 23,500 new aircraft worth US$ 2.4 trillion.
100 million flights: continued success for the A320 Family
The A320neo is the latest in the continuing upgrades to the A320 Family since this best-selling product line’s commercial service entry in 1988. In that time, some 7,100 A320 Family aircraft have been delivered, performing over 100 million flights – a milestone that was eclipsed during June.
Building on that successful track record, Airbus’ A320neo Family has amassed over 4,500 orders since its launch in 2010, capturing some 60 percent share of the market. Thanks to their widest cabin, each member of the A320neo Family – the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo – offers unmatched comfort in all classes and Airbus’ 18-inch-wide seats in economy as standard. A total of eight A320neo aircraft have been delivered since handover of the first one in January 2016.
The A320neo delivers 15 percent fuel burn reduction right away when the aircraft enters into service, and by 2020 it will offer a 20 percent fuel burn improvement per seat that results from the NEO’s latest technologies, standard Sharklets wingtip devices, cabin innovation and new generation engines: Pratt & Whitney’s Pure Power PW1100G-JM, along with the CFM International LEAP-1A.
The A320neo provides significant environmental performance improvements as well with 5,000 tonnes less CO2 emissions per year per aircraft and nearly 50 percent reduction in noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft.
A new development for the A330neo
As the latest evolution in Airbus’ comprehensive market-leading widebody product line, the A330neo programme comprises two versions – the A330-800neo and A330-900neo – which incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, along with aerodynamic improvements and the latest in the company’s cabin technology to provide unmatched operating economics.
The A330-800neo retains the current-production A330-200’s fuselage length, while the A330-900neo uses the longer fuselage of the A330-300. In addition to fuel-burn reduction, A330neo operators will benefit from up to 400 nautical miles of additional range, along with decreased maintenance costs.