DUBAI: A320neo passes 2,500-order mark

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Airbus A320neo orders have passed the 2,500 mark following the latest agreement sealed with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.

The airframer secured orders for 36 A320neo-family jets from Etihad – including 10 destined for its partner Air Serbia – during the Dubai air show.

Airbus puts its firm orders for the re-engined type at 2,527 according to a market forecast presentation during the show.

Given that its pre-show total was 2,487 this suggests that, alongside Etihad’s aircraft, the airframer has logged another four A320neo orders.

It is unclear whether the additional aircraft comprise a new agreement, the firming of a previous commitment or a possible further conversion from the baseline A320 backlog.

A tentative Airbus cutover schedule indicates some 1,623 slots were available, at the end of October 2013, for the regular A320 before the line fully switches to A320neo production.

Airbus’s backlog data reveals that, at the same point, there were orders for 1,736 A320s – an excess of 113.

Airbus senior vice-president and head of marketing Chris Emerson says this is a “nice problem to have”, but adds: “Our first priority is to have the most efficient transition. We don’t want to build white-tails for the A320.

“We know how to use overbooking to manage that type of situation. The priority is to fill all of the [current A320] slots.”

He points out that, during the post-2001 downturn, Airbus used lessors to help “buffer” deferrals and production changes.

Boeing had secured 1,609 orders for its rival 737 Max by the end of October, although Southwest Airlines has since opted to convert 20 orders to the re-engined type. Middle Eastern carrier Flydubai is also intending to order up to 100.

Airbus estimates that it still holds a 60:40 advantage in terms of total firm orders for the A320neo and 737 Max.