The continuing worldwide success of Airbus’ jetliner product line was underscored by Virgin America’s latest fleet expansion contract, which brought the total commercial orders above the 10,000 mark and further strengthened the A320 Family’s competitive position.
Airbus’ jetliner product line has exceeded the 10,000-order mark, underscoring the competitiveness and capabilities of its aircraft families in a full range of operational requirements.
This landmark booking demonstrates Airbus’ commercial success worldwide, building on four decades in the civil jetliner marketplace. Beginning with the initial contract – a September 1970 letter of intent from Air France for six of Airbus’ first production airliner, the A300 – its order volume reached 1,000 aircraft in 1989, followed by the 2,000-booking milestone seven years later.
Airbus sales attained the 3,000 mark in 1998, reducing the time it took to sell 1,000 aircraft by more than half. The 4,000-jetliner landmark came in 2000, followed four years later by the 5,000th order achievement.
The 10,000 milestone was reached on 29 December 2010 with an historic acquisition in its own right: Virgin America’s purchase of 60 A320s, including 30 A320neo jetliners. It marks the first firm booking for Airbus’ A320 new engine option version, and the agreement was highlighted by a press conference today at Airbus’ Toulouse, France delivery centre in the presence of Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and David Cush, the President and CEO of Virgin America.
“We are recognised as being the highest quality airline in the United States, and a big part of this has to do with the A320: not only is this the most fuel efficient aircraft in the U.S. fleet, it is the quietest, and has the widest cabin while also offering the most comfortable ride – factors that are extremely important for us,” Cush told reporters. “Virgin America also is about sustainability, and when the A320neo opportunity provided an even more efficient aircraft, we were very excited about it. We think it is a huge move for us, and it will be for any A320 operator.”
The single-aisle A320 Family accounted for a total of 6,944 orders as of 31 December 2010, making it the clear sales leader in Airbus’ jetliner portfolio. Composed of the A318, A319, A320 and A321 variants, this series has won key shares in market segments from mainline network carriers and low-cost airlines to charter operators and leasing companies. It also has become an aircraft of choice for VVIP and government transportation with the Airbus Corporate Jetliner versions.
“When the A320 entered service in 1988, the so-called ‘industry experts’ thought we might perhaps get 500 orders, and our own business plan was even a bit more ambitious – anticipating some 600 orders,” Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders said. “As we now are nearing the 7,000th order mark for this aircraft family, we’re united with the industry in a mission to provide the best, safest, most efficient, economical and comfortable aircraft, while meeting or exceeding the industry’s challenging emissions reduction targets. The A320neo is a fast track to this goal.”
Airbus’ widebody A330/A340 Family represents the next largest percentage of its total orders, with bookings for 1,350 aircraft as of year-end 2010. The twin-engine A330, which is available in configurations from passenger and cargo versions to VIP and military aerial refuelling platforms, accounted for 1,104 of the orders, with the other 246 bookings made for the four-engine A340.
The A350 XWB Family received 583 total orders for its -800, -900 and -1000 versions as of 31 December 2010, emphasizing the popularity of this next-generation jetliner series, which incorporates the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies for a step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor.
Completing the current product line is Airbus’ 21st century flagship A380. Total A380 orders through the end of 2010 reached 234, booked by 17 customers worldwide.
The A300 and A310 – which served as the original cornerstone members of Airbus’ jetliner product line, and have been phased out of production – account for 816 orders.
For additional information on this milestone order, see the press release or visit Airbus’ video gallery – which includes highlights from the press conference, along with comments from Chief Operating Officer – Customers John Leahy and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson.