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A380 gains first leasing customer

Airbus has enjoyed a pleasant start to the year following confirmation of an order for 20 A380s from Dublin-based lessor Amedeo, previously known as Doric Lease.

This takes firm orders for the A380 to 324, about 100 units short of a widely reported break-even target, and offers hope to Airbus that 2014 will improve upon last year when, without a 50-aircraft commitment from stalwart customer Emirates, the A380 would have recorded negative orders due to cancellations from Lufthansa and bankrupt Kingfisher.


In truth, though, the company’s widebody salesmen put the hard yards in early last year, laying the groundwork for Doric’s signature on a mid-July memorandum of understanding for the superjumbos.


Nonetheless, the A380 finally has an aircraft lessor on its customer roster, albeit one set up with the express purpose of leasing that aircraft type, and one which has already completed 18 A380 sale-and-leasebacks for Emirates and Singapore Airlines.


Amedeo will receive the aircraft from 2016 through to 2020, reportedly in a 573-seat layout that will use an 11-abreast configuration in economy to push the aircraft’s standard capacity up from 550 seats.


This will improve the aircraft’s seat cost offer to potential customers, though Amedeo CEO Mark Lapidus doesn’t see a pressing need for the A380 to re-engined with new technology developed for the A350 and 787, a stance contrary to that of Emirates CEO Tim Clark.

 

Amedeo is yet to make an engine choice for its A380s.


However, the lessor hasn’t yet found airlines to place the aircraft with, and it will be interesting to see what type of customer it eventually finds.

 

Any placements will of course poach potential additions to the A380’s order book, whose growth is a closely monitored and sensitive issue.


Airbus probably hopes that new operators will try out the aircraft on lease and then order more, or that the global A380 fleet achieves sufficient critical mass to generate its own momentum.


Either way, orders from lessors are a good thing, though they are still less of a significant factor in the widebody market than in the narrowbody world.


And, given that Amedeo’s order was speculative, similar commitments from the rest of the leasing community probably won’t materialise until there is more evidence of firm demand for the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

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