Airbus stole the show on day 2 of the Dubai Airshow, announcing a preliminary 111-aircraft order from lessor Air Lease Corp, including the first order for the freighter version of the A350. 

The letter of intent covers all Airbus families, from the A220 to the A350, Airbus announced on November 15 in Dubai. ALC described it as covering “the most desirable and in-demand aircraft types”.

“This is a major announcement for Airbus in 2021. ALC’s order signals we’re moving beyond the Covid doldrums,” commented Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer in a statement.

The order comprises 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, four A330neos and seven A350Fs. Airbus said the order will be finalized in the coming months and will make ALC one of Airbus’ largest customers, as well as the lessor with the biggest A220 order book. 

”ALC was the launch customer for the very popular A321LR and XLR versions. Now, we become the launch lessor for the A350F and by far the largest lessor customer for the A220” ALC executive chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy said in a statement. ALC has so far ordered 496 aircraft.

Udvar-Hazy added: “We had the vision to be first adopters of the A321 and are convinced we have made the right choice again on the A220 and A350F, responding to what we see the market will need in the period of recovery ahead.”

Airbus confirmed it was launching a freighter version of the A350 on July 29, 2021. It is targeting entry into service for 2025, which it hopes will coincide with demand for replacement cargo aircraft. 

“ALC’s endorsement confirms the global enthusiasm we see for this quantum leap in the freighter space and we applaud its insightfulness in selecting it and in beating everyone to the finish line for the first A350F order announcement,” added Airbus’ Scherer.

Rival manufacturer Boeing said on November 14 that it was also in talks with customers over a freighter version of its 777X jet. 

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Boeing is in advanced talks with customers for a freighter version of the 777X and is adding new 737-800 passenger to freighter conversion lines
 

The ALC deal is the second big announcement for Airbus of the Dubai Airshow, after it announced a firm order for 255 A321 family aircraft from private equity firm Indigo Partners on November 14. Indigo’s portfolio airlines are Wizz Air, Frontier, Volaris and JetSMART.  

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The Dubai Airshow kicks off with a big order from Indigo Partners for 255 Airbus A321neo family aircraft  
 

The European manufacturer and ALC also said they were launching a multi-million-dollar fund to contribute investment into sustainable aviation development projects. The fund will be opened to multiple stakeholders from the aircraft leasing and financing community and others, Airbus said.