Paris Air Show

100-Aircraft GECAS Order Boosts A320neo Backlog

 - June 19, 2017, 7:20 AM
(Left to right) GECAS president and CEO Alec Burger; Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier; and Airbus COO John Leahy outlined details of a large order.

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), nearly doubling its Airbus A320neo-family commitment, placed a firm order for 100 CFM LEAP-powered neos on the opening show day at Le Bourget. Deliveries will start in 2020 and end in 2024.

“The feedback from our customers has been very positive, in terms of fuel efficiency and noise abatement,” said GECAS president and ceo Alec Burger. The lessor, which now has commitments for 220 A320neo-family aircraft in its portfolio, delivered its first A320neo to Brazil’s Azul last October.

Burger confirmed that the latest order will include a mix of A320neos and A321neos. He stopped short of confirming that A321LRs—the stretched, longer-range version of the A321neo that many customers have been choosing—will be among them. “We have no firm [A321LR] commitments yet, but we think it’s great technology,” he said.

John Leahy, Airbus’s outspoken COO, reminded the packed Airbus chalet press auditorium here at the Paris Air Show that the OEM’s orders come with conversion rights, meaning operators are free to switch versions post-order.

“We tend to focus on incremental orders,” he said in a not-so-subtle dig at rival Boeing, which formally launched its 737 Max 10 early Monday with help from operators taking existing 737 orders and swapping them to the newest Max.     

Boeing’s long-expected unveiling of its latest 737 stretch includes “more than” 240 commitments from “more than” 10 customers, the OEM said. Early Max 10 customer details confirm that a significant portion of the launch orders, including a 20-aircraft buy from GECAS, are conversions of existing 737 Max commitments.

Leahy pointed to the trend as further evidence of the A321neo’s superiority. The model has outsold its rival, the Max 9, by a wide margin. 

“We have 10 more seats, well over 1,000 miles more range and up to 10 percent lower fuel burn,” Leahy said, comparing the A321LR to the Max 10. “Put all that together, and we think the [Max] 10 is a competitor to the [Max] 9,” not the A321LR, he continued. “And I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of people converting.”

Boeing lists the Max 10’s maximum range at 3,200 nm with one auxiliary tank, or about 500 nm less than Airbus’s published figure for a Sharklet-equipped A321LR. Both models tout two-class configurations of about 185 seats, while the A321LR’s maximum capacity of 236 is six more seats than the Max 10.