Airbus clinches biggest order in its history

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If firmed, this will make Indigo Partners one of the largest customers for the A320neo aircraft family, rivaling the 404-aircraft backlog of AirAsia and the 430-order total of Indian low-priced carrier IndiGo, which has no business relationship with the United States investment firm.

The order, believed to be the biggest ever for Airbus, will more than double the value of the airline's sales for the year. The Netherlands-based plane maker made the announcement Wednesday, following talks at the Dubai Air Show.

The umbrella deal is created to supply aircaft to four airlines in which Franke's Indigo Partners investment company has stakes: US -based Frontier Airlines, Mexico´s Volaris, Chilean carrier JetSmart and Hungary's Wizz. To put it in perspective, a single airline with 430 planes would rank among the 10 largest carriers on the planet.

If all the deals they each announced at the show are finalized before the end of the year, they will head into the last weeks of 2017 neck-and-neck in the race for the biggest annual order tally.

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Airbus and Boeing went into the air show with 288 and 605 net orders, respectively. An order of 20 jets would be valued at US$8.7 billion while an order for 36 of the aircraft would be worth $15.7bn at list prices before discount.

For Indigo Partners, led by Bill Franke, the Airbus deal provides upgraded single-aisle jetliners to boost the fleets of ultra-low-cost carriers from Denver to Budapest.

The deal marks a major coup for Airbus's Chief Operating Officer John Leahy, who is expected to leave the group soon at the end of a career in which he oversaw the sale of almost 15,000 planes.

Wednesday's historic deal represents a final grand act for Airbus's chief salesman, John Leahy, who plans to retire from the company once a successor is selected.

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