Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2011. Contents Manufacturers
Ian Goold / London
A320neo lures customers, awakens Boeing
Malaysian low-cost carrier
AirAsia has modified
its fleet plans to
acquisition of the Airbus
A320neo, thus joining a
number of potential owners or operators showing
interest in the re-engined aircra .
Airbus formally o ered the latest A320-family
model in December and positive industry reaction
is stimulating arch-rival Boeing to comment on its
own single-aisle product development ideas.
In mid-January, Virgin America placed the rst
airline order for A320neo variants, committing
to 30 aircra about a week a er Indian low-cost
carrier (LCC) IndiGo had agreed to take up to
150. Both airlines included the re-engined model
in larger A320 deals, without clarifying they
preferred the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared
turbofan (GTF) engine, or the alternative CFM
International Leap-X powerplant.
Having deferred delivery of ten A320s from
2012 to 2015, Air Asia says that the move provides
" exibility to switch" to the more fuel-e cient
A320neo, which is expected to enter ser vice in
2016. An A320 purchase agreement initiated in
March 2005 covered orders for 175 machines, of
which some 23 deliveries have previously been
deferred in two batches because of "infrastructural
constraints" at destination airports. e airline has
said it incurs no nancial penalty in relation to the
latest delivery revision.
According to Teal Group analyst Richard
Aboula a, Airbus's decision to launch the A320neo
was the best move the manufacturer could make,
given that Boeing has taken its time deciding on
further development or replacement of the 737.
Aboula a told February's US Paci c Northwest
Aerospace Alliance conference that there could be
"a defection from the 737 to the A320neo or to the
planned Bombardier C Series" by the end of this
year. Speaking ahead of new remarks from Boeing
o cials about possible 737 decisions, Aboula a
said Airbus and Boeing will see single-aisle aircra
deliveries falling around 2015 as owners delay
deliveries and begin to await newer aircra .
Boeing expects to continue developing
incremental 737 improvements, according to
recently reported internal company comments made
by Commercial Airplanes division Chief Executive
O cer Jim Albaugh. Considerations include an
updated ight deck, and the manufacturer con rms
there will be upgrades whatever decision it makes
about a possible replacement.
Airbus Chief Operating O cer (Customers)
John Leahy predicted in early 2010 that if a
re-engined A320 were offered, Boeing would
immediately counter with a clean-sheet design for
launch in 2020.
at prophecy appeared to many obser vers to
have been ful lled in February, when Boeing group
CEO Jim McNerney said the US manufacturer
was doing "a new airplane", without elaborating.
Days later, other Boeing o cials, speaking at the
unveiling of the 747-8 Intercontinental, were
characterising that development also as "all new"
and "brand new" -- despite its appearance to the
layman as having very much in common with earlier
Leasing companies are also among those
expressing early interest in the re-engined A320.
Airbus con rms that it has been holding preliminary
discussions with Air Lease Corporation, the new
vehicle for veteran leasing executive Steven Udvar-
Hazy, who launched International Lease Finance
Corporation (ILFC) in 1973. e two parties
spoke at the handover of Air Lease's rst A320 to
Air New Zealand in February.
Airbus has discounted an analyst's report
suggesting 1,000 orders could be received by June,
while Udvar-Hazy has previously been reported
as having doubts about the re-engine plan. "We
did take a little time to have discussions with [Air
Lease] about the neo, but you have to remember
they have just placed an order for 51 [other] aircra ,
but I am sure they will be looking at it," says Leahy.
Hazy has emphasised the virtues of the current
model -- "a wonderful performer... a cost-e ective
airplane ... a real workhorse" -- but to comment in
detail on his interest in the A320neo. Nevertheless,
he has referred to considerations that must be
accommodated alongside the claimed lower fuel
burn, including "maintenance costs, capital costs,
[and] spare parts. ere are a lot of other costs
associated with introducing a di erent version, so
[we] are not 100 percent aligned on this issue."
For its part, ILFC is also considering the
A320neo as it prepares to place its rst new aircra
order since mid-2007. CEO Henri Courpron, a
former Airbus o cial, says the lessor has just ten
single-aisle deliveries outstanding, out of about
100 aircra on order. ILFC wants to replenish its
narrowbody stocks since all remaining machines
have been placed. An early client for CFM
International Leap-X-powered A320neos could
be GE Commercial Aviation Ser vices, a leasing
a liate of engine manufacturer General Electric,
which is a partner in the CFM joint venture with
Leahy is characteristically optimistic about
the A320neo, but has responded with caution to
remarks by a Morgan Stanley analyst who suggested
Airbus could sell as many as 1,000 aircra by the
time of the Paris Air Show in June. Calling the
gure "overly optimistic", the Airbus o cial says
he expects to sell "several hundred" A320neos by
that time. n
42 AsianAviation | MARCH 2011
Virgin America ordered 30 Airbus A320neo models in January.
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