Airbus unveiled new business for its single-aisle and wide-body jetliner families at the Paris Air Show today while also underscoring the company’s broad reach in urban mobility, its commitment to the air transportation industry’s sustainability, and the evolution of Airbus rotary-wing aircraft for defence missions.
The order book for Airbus’ A330neo was given a boost with acquisitions announced for 30 of these wide-body aircraft during the Paris Air Show’s first two days, underscoring the A330neo market appeal along with the A350 XWB as Airbus’ new generation of twin-aisle jetliners.
Virgin Atlantic is acquiring 14 A330-900s (involving a firm order with Airbus for eight A330-900s and six on lease from Air Lease Corporation), for deployment as part of the UK carrier’s fleet modernisation. Speaking to reporters at Le Bourget Airport during the Paris Air Show, Chief Executive Officer Shai Weiss described the A330neo choice as a clear “winning decision” for his carrier’s fleet renewal and expansion, based on a comprehensive review for the replacement of its current A330s. Weiss noted that in addition to the 14 A330-900s, Virgin Atlantic has options for six more.
For Philippines-based Cebu Pacific, 16 A330-900s covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) announced at Le Bourget with this low-cost carrier will be a higher-capacity version – with 460 seats in a single-class cabin layout.
In other A330neo-related news, AirAsia Group unveiled its first A330neo together with Airbus at the Paris Air Show, to be delivered in the coming weeks to AirAsia’s long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X Thailand, via aircraft lessor Avalon. Guests and media attendees of the air show were among the first to step inside the new aircraft’s two-class cabin.
Airbus’ A320neo Family of single-aisle jetliners continued to make headlines during Day 2 of the Paris Air Show, as International Airlines Group (IAG) selected the newly-launched A321XLR extra-long-range version for a firm order of 14 aircraft, of which eight will be operated by the airline parent company’s Spanish-based Iberia carrier, and the other six by Aer Lingus in Ireland.
Cebu Pacific also joined the list of A321XLR airlines, as its MoU revealed today with Airbus also includes 10 of the extra-long-range aircraft, along with five A320neo jetliners. At a press conference in Airbus’ Paris Air Show chalet, Andrew Huang, the Cebu Pacific Chief Financial Officer, said: “With our A320neo and the A330neo jetliners, we are confident we will further reduce our environmental footprint, as we will be operating the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the world on a per-passenger basis.”
Another transaction revealed at the Paris Air Show today was AirAsia’s conversion of 253 orders from the A320neo version to the longer-fuselage A321neo. This was made public at the same moment that the first A321neo for French business-class airline La Compagnie was making a highly visible arrival at Le Bourget Airport to take part in Airbus’ static display – sporting the slogan: “A321neo THE PLANE TO BE.”
Also at the Paris Air Show, it was announced that Saudi Arabian Airlines – the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia – has decided to expand its existing A320neo Family order from 35 to as many as 100 NEO (new engine option) aircraft, including 35 options. The additional firm order takes this carrier’s number of A320neo Family jetliners to 65 – of which 15 are A321XLRs, the extra-long-range aircraft launched during the show’s opening day.
Atlantic Airways, the Faroe Islands flag carrier, signed a Purchase Agreement with Airbus for two A320neo aircraft, which the airline will use to develop its European network.
Another member of the Airbus single-aisle family, the A220, received five additional orders from Delta Air Lines, bringing the total number of A220 jetliners booked by the U.S.-based carrier to 95. This airline is the first to select the new increased maximum take-off weight option for its entire fleet from 2020.
Advancing the future of urban air mobility
Another form of transportation that is a key theme of the 2019 Paris Air Show – and one that has been generating a “buzz” in the aerospace industry – is urban air mobility (UAM) and its sustainable integration into existing city transportation. Today, Airbus, Groupe ADP (a leader in urban mobility solutions) and the RATP Group (a leading urban mobility solutions provider) – along with the Paris Ile-de-France region and the French DGAC civil aviation authority – announced a feasibility study aimed at demonstrating an urban mobility system of vertical take-off and landing vehicles in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Given Airbus’ expertise as an aircraft manufacturer as well as its credibility with authorities, passengers and industrial partners, the company has a unique opportunity to contribute to the future of air mobility, both in developing new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) platforms and in safely integrating this new class of vehicles in the urban environment. Airbus’ dedicated urban air mobility division, created in 2018, is actively exploring how UAM can bring added mobility solutions to cities’ existing networks for the benefit of citizens and what additional infrastructure would be required.
Airbus is making progress on both the technology and business development fronts of urban air mobility, including: the development of two eVTOL demonstrators, Vahana and CityAirbus; the operation of the helicopter booking platform Voom in Brazil and Mexico; ongoing work on city integration and infrastructure requirements; and the development of unmanned traffic management (UTM) solutions, among other things.
Vahana, exhibited at the Paris Air Show, is a next-generation aerial vehicle demonstrator (developed by Airbus’ Silicon Valley outpost A3) that is designed to respond to the growing need for improved urban mobility solutions for point-to-point travel within cities. It leverages the latest technologies in electric propulsion and machine vision. Equipped with on-board detect-and-avoid systems, Vahana can identify both air and ground hazards and is configured to safely navigate in high-density urban airspace.
International collaboration to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment
On the second day of the 2019 Paris Air Show, the Chief Technology Officers of seven of the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers (Airbus, The Boeing Company, Dassault Aviation, GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran and UTC) released a joint statement demonstrating their collaborative approach to drive aviation industry sustainability and reach the ambitious – and necessary – targets to reduce CO2 emissions.
Despite the growth of demand for air travel, the aviation industry is committing to decreasing its impact on the environment and climate change, reducing CO2 emissions to half of year-2005 levels by 2050, and limiting the growth of net CO2 emissions by 2020.
The no. 1 H145M for Serbia is highlighted at Le Bourget
Included in Airbus Helicopters’ presence at this week’s Paris Air Show is the display of an H145M for Serbia – the first of nine earmarked for this country’s Air Force and Ministry of the Interior (with three of its Air Force aircraft to be equipped with the HForce weapon management system). As the latest member of Airbus’ four-tonne-class twin-engine rotorcraft product range, the H145M has built-in mission capability – most notably in high-and-hot operating conditions – and covers the entire spectrum of military missions, from light utility to light attack with economical, versatile rotorcraft platform.
Software solution Optaforce on display at the Paris Air Show
Another defence-related announcement was that Optaforce, a software solution developed by Airbus Defence and Space in partnership with start-up company Cosling – and displayed at the French Ministry of the Armed Forces’ stand during the Paris Air Show – will be deployed on the French Mirage 2000 fleet of combat aircraft in the fall of 2019. Optaforce will maximise aircraft availability, reduce maintenance costs and optimise the use of resources.
For additional information:
- See AirAsia’s order conversion details in the press release.
- For more information on Saudi Arabian Airlines’ order, see the press release.
- Discover more about Atlantic Airways' order in the press release.
- Learn more about Cebu Pacific’s order in the dedicated press release.
- See the announcement on International Airlines Group's new order.
- Read the Delta Air Lines press release on this carrier’s additional order.
- Find out more about the urban mobility study partnership between Airbus, Groupe ADP, the RATP Group, Paris Ile-de-France region and the French civil aviation authority.
- Read about the joint CTO statement on aviation industry sustainability in the press release.