US lessor Air Lease has become the launch customer for the Airbus A350 freighter, agreeing to take seven of the type as part of a large order for 111 Airbus jets.

Air Lease is adding more widebodies, taking four already-placed A330neos, while it will substantially lift its single-aisle commitment, with a deal for 75 A321neos – of which 20 are the A321XLR – and 25 A220-300s.

But the agreement for the A350F is significant as it marks a launch order for the cargo version of the twinjet, which will slightly shorter than the A350-1000 but still based on its 319t maximum take-off weight. It will have a payload capability of 109t.

“We’re gratified by an endorsement as powerful as Air Lease’s,” says Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer.

A350F ALC-c-Airbus

Source: Airbus

Seven A350Fs feature in the Air Lease order for 111 Airbus jets

Air Lease executive chairman Steve Udvar-Hazy says the lessor is a “very large widebody player”, and points out that older Boeing MD-11Fs and 747Fs will be phased out over the second half of the decade.

The lessor indicates delivery dates for the A350F around 2026.

Its A220 acquisition will make Air Lease the largest lessor for the twinjet type, a programme Airbus acquired from Bombardier in 2018.

“[There is] increased demand for this category of aircraft,” says Udvar-Hazy.

Chief executive John Plueger adds that the A220 deal is “largely an option exercise” and that it has “enjoyed very strong placements” of the type over the last year.

Air Lease’s broad agreement, disclosed at the Dubai air show on 15 November, will bring its overall Airbus orders to date to just shy of 500 aircraft.