Airbus SE secured the biggest aircraft order in aviation history, notching a 500-plane sale to India’s dominant airline, IndiGo.
The mammoth deal for Airbus’s top-selling A320 family of single-aisle jets was announced by top executives of both companies on Monday at the Paris Air Show. It brings IndiGo’s order backlog to close to 1,000 planes.
“No one has ever ordered an order of this magnitude,” IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers said from the podium. “It speaks to the potential of Indian aviation and the ambitions which IndiGo is having.”
The blockbuster agreement surpasses a record set in February, when Air India Ltd purchased 470 planes from Airbus and Boeing Co. Indian carriers are stocking up on aircraft to handle increasing volumes in the world’s fastest-growing major aviation market.
The deal will further boost Indigo’s position in India’s crowded skies.
IndiGo, already the world’s biggest customer for A320neo jets, has bold expansion plans. With a local market share of 61 per cent, IndiGo expects to double in “size and scale” by the end of decade and plans to increase operations in Central Asia.
The fleet expansion also aids India’s ambition to become a connecting hub. The government has been encouraging airlines to operate more long-haul aircraft while it plows $12 billion into airport buildout.
India, having recently surpassed China as the world’s most-populous nation, offers airlines huge growth potential with a budding contingent of first-time fliers. Airbus in June predicted that aviation’s “center of gravity” will shift toward Asia, with China and India driving growth.