Dubai Airshow: Airbus seals order with U.S. firm Indigo

The company has unveiled a huge deal at the Dubai Airshow

Indigo Partners is a Phoenix-based private equity firm which owns Frontier Airlines and part of Volaris.

Airbus has struck its biggest single deal with an order for 430 aircraft worth $49.5bn at list prices from a U.S. owner of a string of budget airlines.

The order on the penultimate day of the Dubai Airshow comes after what could have been a hard week for Airbus.

Separately, the immediate prospect of a much-discussed deal to keep the A380 in production beyond the end of the decade remained in suspense with Emirates seeking guarantees over the longevity of the program, plagued by slow orders from other carriers.

The Airbus aircraft, whose wings are made in the United Kingdom, will be deployed across Indigo's airlines, which also include Frontier in the USA, and JetSmart in Chile.

Airbus employees even filled a news conference on Sunday, expecting the A380 sale, instead to find state-owned Emirates making the deal with Boeing in front of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. "Airbus fits the bill".

That has triggered industry talk of a swan-song order worth tens of billions of dollars to be negotiated by Leahy before end-year.

The order, believed to be the biggest ever for Airbus, will more than double the value of the airline's sales for the year. The two companies are unrelated.

The deal is made up of 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos worth $49.5bn (£37.5bn) at list prices, and was announced today at the Dubai Airshow.

With Boeing so far dominating the headlines, delegates said all eyes were on Airbus where sales chief John Leahy, a veteran of last-minute air show surprises, was plotting a blockbuster climax to a more-than-20-year stint as marketing boss.

Until Wednesday, the only major deal announced at the Dubai Air Show came on Sunday, when long-haul carrier Emirates purchased 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners in a $15.1 billion deal.

But the A380 announcement was cancelled minutes before a press conference convened.

Mr Leahy declined to say if the A380 deal could this happen this week. "You'll just have to walked over there [to Emirates' show chalet] and ask them", he told reporters.

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