CIT Aerospace, which provides finance for commercial- and corporate-aircraft operators, manufacturers, and suppliers, yesterday signed a firm purchase agreement covering 10 Airbus A330-200s and -300s nominally valued at $2.31 billion and scheduled to enter service from 2014. The deal includes five unannounced orders placed earlier this year in conjunction with conversion of a purchase option and cancellation of four A320-series aircraft.
This week’s five new orders represent the first commitment for the higher-gross-weight (HGW) A330 variant that Airbus announced here Monday, which are to be available from late 2015 and brings CIT’s A330 backlog to 51.
CIT Transportation Finance president C. Jeffrey Knittel said he views the new 240,000-kilogram (almost 530,000-pound) maximum takeoff weight A330-300HGW as “a winning aircraft,” whose flexibility in being able to operate over distances of 1,800 to 6,000 miles complements the “ultra-long-range” A350 now in development. CIT will receive its A330s as -200s or -300s, according to airline requirements, said Knittel. “Ten years ago, the market focus was on the A330-200. Many airlines are driving toward the -300, with its additional 400-mile range.
As of April 1, CIT owns or has financed more than 325 commercial aircraft, of which 157 units are Airbus products on operating lease. The new order brings its total orders, scheduled for delivery through 2019, to 162 aircraft–of which 89 are for Airbus aircraft.
Knittel said that the European manufacturer and its U.S. competitor are in a situation where, so long as they produce equivalent products, a self-correcting mechanism would resolve widely divided market shares. “My guess is that if one fell below 40 percent, the market will correct [that imbalance].” With production problems and quality-control issues having delayed the introduction of their most recent new designs or latest variants, both manufacturers had “gone through some significant learning,” said Knittel.
Asked about the effect of a third player coming into the market for aircraft with 100-plus passengers, Knittel did not recognize such a scenario–now or in the foreseeable future. “I’m not saying that there won’t ever be [one], but in my career span I expect primary discussions to be with Airbus and Boeing,” Knittel told AIN.
Another Airbus customer this week is China Aircraft Leasing Co. (CALC), which yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding for 36 A320-series aircraft, including eight A321 larger variants. If confirmed as firm orders, the aircraft will take CALC’s fleet to more than 50.
Deliveries would be drawn from production lines in China and Europe. Currently, the Hong Kong-base lessor has an A330, and five examples each of the A320 and A321, with three A330s and five A320s in backlog.
CALC chief executive Dr. Mike Poon said the company’s business plan covers fleet expansion to more than 100 aircraft, with the focus mainly on the Chinese market.