Airbus marked key milestones in 2016. Including service introductions of the A320neo (new engine option) jetliner; first deliveries of the latest A330 Family member tailored for regional routes; expansion of the A350 XWB operator base; start of final assembly for the A330neo; its 10,000th overall delivery and broadening of the company’s customer services offering.
Accompanying these achievements were significant new commercial orders from around the world for Airbus’ product line of single-aisle and wide-body aircraft.
This builds on achievements during the previous year – when the company attained a new annual company record of 635 aircraft deliveries. In terms of new business, Airbus received 1,080 net orders placed by 53 customers in 2015. These positive results positioned Airbus at the start of this year with a backlog of 6,831 aircraft, marking a new industry-wide record.
The company’s solid 2015 performance provided a strong platform for its 2016 activities, as Airbus targeted additional improvements in competitiveness – with a particular focus on becoming even more efficient and innovative, while further increasing the diversity of its global operations.
Top management from Airbus, Airbus Group and Singapore Airlines mark the 10,000th Airbus delivery, which was an A350-900 for Singapore Airlines.
A journey of 10,000 aircraft
Highlighting Airbus’ continued growth, the aircraft manufacturer marked its 10,000th jetliner delivery to global customers with the 14 October handover of an A350-900 jetliner to Singapore Airlines.
This major achievement spans more than four decades with every member of the Airbus airliner “family” contributing – from the cornerstone medium-haul A300 and A310 to the best-selling single-aisle A320 product line, long-range A330/340 Family, new-generation A350 XWB and double-deck A380.
As of the 10,000th handover, the global Airbus fleet had flown some 215 billion kilometres and carried more than 12 billion passengers – a number representing approximately twice the Earth’s population.
First deliveries for the U.S. final assembly line
History was made on 25 April with the first-ever delivery of a jetliner from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama – a single-aisle A321 for operation by U.S.-based carrier JetBlue.
Airbus’ second handover from the final assembly line occurred less than one month later with the 17 May delivery of American Airlines’ no. 1 U.S.-built Airbus aircraft – an A321.
Taking the Alabama site into account, Airbus now has operational final assembly lines for the best-selling A320 jetliner product line on three continents: North America, Europe (at Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany), and Asia (at Tianjin, China).
A350 XWB momentum: a Family affair
Airbus has reached important production milestones for its A350 XWB Family’s longest-fuselage member, the A350-1000 – for which Airbus is targeting a mid-2017 commercial service entry. The company has rolled out its the initial two aircraft, the first of which made its maiden flight in November.
These jetliners were built at Airbus’ A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France concurrently with the baseline A350-900 version.
Underscoring the high degree of commonality between the A350-900 and A350-1000, all final assembly line stations can accommodate both aircraft types.
The A350-900 has made headlines of its own so this year with first deliveries of this “Xtra Wide Body” aircraft to Singapore Airlines (March), Cathay Pacific Airways (May), Ethiopian Airlines (June), Thai Airways International (August), China Airlines (September) and Lufthansa (December) – bringing the number of operators to 10.
A320neo Family: opening a new era
This year marks the start of commercial service for Airbus’ A320neo (new engine option) Family, which offers airline operators unbeatable fuel efficiency by incorporating the very latest technologies, including two new-generation engine choices: Pratt & Whitney GTF™ and the LEAP-1A from CFM International.
On 20 January, the Lufthansa Group took delivery of the first NEO aircraft – with the historic handover of an A320neo powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Airbus followed up this milestone some six months later with the initial handover of the LEAP-1A-powered A320neo version in July to Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines.
The flight test campaign for other NEO versions continues as well, with the successful first flight of the A320neo Family’s largest member – the A321neo – performed during February. Delivery of the first A321neo is scheduled at the end of 2016.
As new operators continue to take delivery of the A320neo, Airbus had booked more than 4,800 orders from over 80 customers for the NEO Family as of September 2016 – commercial figures which represent a 60 percent market share since the single-aisle jetliner family’s launch.
The expanding NEO operator base: In September, Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris became the first North American airline to operate the A320neo.
The next chapter for the A330 Family
Airbus has marked several important milestones that will continue the success story for the popular and versatile A330 Family.
In September, the company announced the start of final assembly for the no. 1 A330neo (new engine option) jetliner. Airbus’ first wide-body NEO is a longer-fuselage A330-900 version, which alongside the A330-800 comprises this highly-efficient product line’s two versions. The A330neo Family builds on the A330’s proven economics – offering a further 14 percent reduction in fuel burn per seat.
Another significant development of 2016 was handover for the first A330-300 Regional jetliner, which was received by Saudi Arabian Airlines in August. Tailored for regional and domestic operations, this A330 version is optimised for routes up to 2,700 nm. – covering short- to medium-haul routes with up to five hours’ flight time.
As the A330-300 Regional’s launch operator, Saudi Arabian Airlines is to operate a fleet of 20 jetliners, deploying the aircraft to boost capacity on some of its most in-demand regional/domestic routes.
Comfort in the cabin: Airspace by Airbus
In March, Airbus formally launched its innovative new jetliner cabin concept – “Airspace by Airbus” – which connects the company’s commitment to passenger well-being and airline operational performance.
Based on four key pillars – comfort, ambience, service and design – Airspace by Airbus cabins offer a more relaxing, inspiring, attractive and functional environment for travellers.
This sophisticated, flexible concept also will optimise cabin space for operators, while allowing them to project their brands – and create next-generation flying experiences for passengers.
The Airspace by Airbus cabin will be introduced with the wide-body A330neo (new engine option) and incorporated onto the A350 XWB Family – building on the best-in-class comfort of Airbus’ modern, market-leading product line.
In addition, the company announced a new cabin concept for its corporate jet family in October. Called Melody, this interior for ACJ320neo business jets is inspired by the smooth curves of nature – while emphasising a high-quality sound environment – to provide an even better experience for customers.
To be introduced with the A330neo, the “Airspace by Airbus” cabin concept is based on four dimensions: comfort, ambience, service and design.
Flying high at Farnborough
Airbus had an active presence and added to its commercial order book during the Farnborough International Airshow this summer. In addition to displaying its market-leading aircraft and highlighting innovation, the company also won $35 billion worth of new business comprising firm orders for 197 aircraft and commitments for 82 jetliners from Airbus’ single-aisle and wide-body families.
Farnborough also provided Airbus with the opportunity to unveil its latest global market forecast, titled “Mapping Demand.” This forward-looking projection of the aviation industry’s next 20 years forecasts an annual 4.5 percent growth rate in air traffic that will require some 33,000 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft.
Awesome starts here: iflyA380.com
In July, Airbus launched its new “I fly A380” booking assistant – which is a unique website for connecting fans of the iconic double-deck A380 aircraft who want to experience a flight on-board this passenger favourite.
This booking assistant puts the A380 at the top of passengers’ lists – so flying on it is a matter of choice, not chance. They can conveniently browse of all A380 flights, destinations and carriers – easily finding the desired flight based on their travel agenda, and then connecting them seamlessly to the operating airline’s website for safe and secure booking at no extra cost. Choose. Fly. Love A380.
Reaching for the skies: Services by Airbus
Highlighting the continued growth in commercial aviation aftermarket, Airbus is fully committed to delivering even more value-adding services on par with the quality of its market-leading jetliners. Underscoring this growing focus was the July announcement of the company’s first-ever global services forecast – which projects $3 trillion in aftermarket services spending over the next 20 years.
Also in July, the company unveiled its new NAVBLUE flight operations and air traffic management company that combines the portfolios of Navtech (acquired by Airbus in March), Airbus ProSky and Airbus Flight Operations Services. NAVBLUE is reaching for the skies – fueled by the agility of Navtech and the pioneering spirit of Airbus.
Historic agreements with Iran
Iranian officials took a significant step in modernising the country’s commercial aviation sector by signing two agreements with Airbus in January. These accords cover the acquisition of 118 new aircraft, along with a comprehensive cooperation for developing Iranian air transportation infrastructure.
With one agreement Iran Air will acquire a full range of new Airbus jetliners (21 A320ceo Family aircraft, 24 A320neo Family jetliners, 27 A330ceo Family airlines, 18 A330-900 NEO versions, 16 A350-1000s and 12 A380s), while benefiting from Airbus’ extensive resources in pilot and maintenance training, as well as customer support and services. The other accord is a comprehensive cooperation agreement for development of air navigation services, airport and aircraft operations, harmonised air regulations, technical and academic training, maintenance and repair operations, as well as industrial cooperation.
Growing success in Japan
Building on Airbus’ increasing commercial and industrial ties in Japan, a milestone purchase agreement for three double-deck A380 jetliners from ANA Holdings was announced in January 2016.
ANA Group will take delivery of the A380 from 2019 – becoming the first Japanese airline to operate the type, which is ideally suited for supporting sustainable growth at the country’s busy airports.
Japanese customers have ordered aircraft from Airbus’ market-leading wide-body and single-aisle product lines.
The company also continues to actively developing its presence in Japan with a network of 20 industrial partners that contribute to all Airbus aircraft programmes.
Expanding Airbus’ footprint in China
As another demonstration of Airbus’ growing presence in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, the company in March began construction of its A330 Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) at Tianjin, China – where activities will include cabin installation, fuselage painting, engine run, production flights, as well as delivery to customers.
The Tianjin-based C&DC will benefit from its co-location with the existing A320 Family final assembly line in this northern Chinese city.
Aircraft processed at the Chinese Completion and Delivery Centre will be built at Airbus’ A330 final assembly line in Toulouse, France, and then flown to Tianjin.
Customer deliveries of finished A330s from Tianjin are scheduled to begin in September 2017.
Construction for Airbus’ A330 Completion and Delivery Centre in Tianjin, China began 2 March 2016.