Airbus Commercial Aircraft President Guillaume Faury poses during the unveiling of an Airbus A220-300 aircraft after landing in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, on July 10, 2018.
Regis Duvignau | Reuters
Airbus has received an order for 255 new aircraft from the American private equity company Indigo Partners in the first significant agreement for the company since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Indigo, founded and run by investor Bill Franke, owns stakes in airlines including Frontier in the US, Hungarian Wizz Air, Mexico̵[ads1]7;s Volaris and Jetsmart in China and Argentina.
In a speech to CNBC on the Dubai Air Show, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said that the agreement for the A321 aircraft was a “very positive signal that we [are starting] to be on the front foot again. “
The value of the deal for the passenger planes at once has not been revealed, but is believed to be worth billions of dollars.
“It is an order that takes us into the second half of the decade – it is very important for Airbus to have long-term visibility, to plan production when we move from Covid-19 which was [a] limit on demand, to a world … that is going to be limited by supply, Faury told CNBC’s Dan Murphy.
The Dubai Air Show comes at a difficult time for space companies after international flights were decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Countries around the world closed their borders to international travelers in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, with some – such as the United States – just beginning to reopen.
The industry was hit by a collapse in order numbers, but an expected increase in flights will increase demand in the near future. Boeing said in September that it expects demand for new aircraft to increase over the next two decades.
As such, industry monitors will be waiting for further flight bookings at the air show from both Airbus and Boeing.
“Covid has changed a lot of things, but climate change is also having a big impact on how airlines book in the future,” Faury said.
There is a lot of focus on the sustainability of flights at this year’s event as it gets hot on the heels of the high-profile climate summit COP26. On Saturday, almost 200 countries agreed on an agreement to try to prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis, after two weeks of talks in Glasgow, Scotland – but not everyone is convinced that it was a success.
However, Faury insisted that COP26 was not a failure. “It was a very important step – it is a milestone,” he said.
Airbus wants to “lead the decarbonisation of aviation,” Faury told CNBC.
“At Airbus, we strongly believe in hydrogen. It’s the best way to not get carbon in the air … It requires a lot of engineering work, a lot of work – that’s what we do now.”
In September, Airbus released details of three hydrogen-powered concept aircraft that they hope will be put into service by 2035. The designs are different in size and style, but all are designed to have zero emissions, and use hydrogen as their primary power source. Airbus presents a “mockup” of the concept ZEROe aircraft at this year’s event.
“It’s not a reality today,” Faury said, adding that the 2035 goal was a “credible scenario.”
– CNBC’s Anmar Frangoul contributed to this report