Early interest in the Airbus A320neo appears to have spread beyond the ranks of two potential launch operators, as aircraft leasing powerhouse ILFC today signaled its endorsement of the re-engined narrowbodies with a memorandum of understanding covering 75 A320neos and 25 A321neos. However, ILFC also cancelled its purchase agreement for 10 A380s in an effort to “rebalance” its order book, undoubtedly tempering Airbus’s satisfaction.
“With 104 widebodies on order and fewer than a dozen single aisles, it makes perfect sense to rebalance our order book and position ILFC strategically on the fuel-efficient neo,” said Henri Courpron, ILFC chief executive officer.
In a separate agreement, ILFC has chosen Pratt & Whitney PW1100G “geared” turbofans to power at least 60 of the airplanes. Scheduled for entry-into-service in 2016, the A320neo will come equipped with either the Pratt & Whitney engine or CFM International’s new Leap-X.
As expected, Airbus COO for customers John Leahy wouldn’t show a hint of discouragement over the loss of the A380 order. “The A380 is a long-term program,” he said. “Over the next twenty years we see a market of more than 1,300 passenger aircraft in the very-large- aircraft segment. The A380 continues to win new customers and many are coming back with repeat orders. “This year we’ve already won two new A380 customers and there are more queuing up.”