Paris, Jan 12 (AFP) Indian budget airline IndiGo hassigned an agreement to buy 180 Airbus A320 aircraft, theEuropean plane maker said, in a record sale worth USD 16.4billion.
"It is the largest single firm order number for largejets in commercial aviation history," Airbus said in astatement, although the company has signed contracts worthmore financially.
The low-cost airline has signed a memorandum ofunderstanding to acquire 150 single-aisle A320neo jets. Theneo versions -- "new engine option" -- are equipped with moreefficient engines and fuel-saving wing tips.IndiGo is the first client for this new version of theaircraft, which Airbus only unveiled last month and plans tostart delivering in early 2016. The other 30 planes are to bestandard versions of the A320.
The value of the deal was not announced, but accordingto Airbus'' catalogue price the sale is worth USD 16.4 billion(12.6 billion euros).
IndiGo is the only Indian carrier to have ordered 100aircraft from Airbus earlier, and the order is currently inthe process of being delivered.
"This order for industry leading fuel efficientaircraft will allow IndiGo to continue to offer low fares,"said Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia, co-founders of IndiGo.
The aircraft are expected to deliver fuel savings ofup to 15 per cent, with corresponding cuts in pollution.
"Ordering more A320s was the natural choice to meetIndia''s growing flying needs. The opportunity to reduce costsand to further improve our environmental performance throughthe A320neo were key to our decision," they said in astatement.
John Leahy, Airbus'' Chief Operating Officer forCustomers, said the deal gave IndiGo a strong position in thefast growing Indian air travel industry.
"This order positions IndiGo to take full advantage ofpredicted growth in Indian air travel and we are delightedthey continue to build their future with Airbus," he said.
Airbus said it has delivered some 4,500 of theaircraft to 310 airlines, with another 1,300 on the orderbooks, making it the world''s best-selling single-aisleaircraft family.
The A320neo is Airbus'' bid to counter rival aircraftsuch as Canada''s Bombadier CSeries and China''s C919, as wellas heading off Boeing, which has not yet decided on the futureof its medium-haul 737. Airbus will offer airlines a choice ofmotors on its A320neo.
They will be able to choose between the latest modelfrom CFM International, a joint venture between France''sSafran and General Electric in the United States, and a USPratt