Singapore Airlines gives Airbus £4bn orders boost

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The Independent Online

The embattled aircraft manufacturer Airbus received a massive vote of confidence from one of its biggest customers yesterday after Singapore Airlines placed an order worth £4bn at list prices for its two latest jets - the new extra wide-bodied A350 and the A380 superjumbo.

Singapore has signed a letter of intent to buy 20 of the 314-seater A350XWB-900 and a further nine A380s to go with the 10 already on order. The Asian airline is the launch customer for the A380 and is due to introduce the 555-seater aircraft into service in December.

Neither Airbus nor Singapore would comment on the commercial terms of the deal, but it is understood the airline has received a significant discount in return for keeping faith with Airbus after all the production delays and design rethinks it has endured.

As part of the agreement, Airbus has also agreed a cut-price deal to lease Singapore a fleet of 19 wide-bodied A330s to fill the gap in the airline's fleet until all the new aircraft have been delivered.

The order for nine A380s is the first Airbus has received for the aircraft this year and takes the order book to 168. It comes as a huge fillip after the turmoil of the past six weeks, following the warning from Airbus's parent company EADS in early June that production delays on the A380 would slice €2bn (£1.37bn) from its profits. The A380 fiasco also cost the jobs of Gustav Humbert, the chief executive of Airbus, and Noel Forgeard, the co-chief executive of EADS.

On the same day Airbus announced the A380 production delays, Singapore compounded its misery by placing an order with the rival manufacturer Boeing for 20 of its new 787 Dreamliners - the competitor to the new A350. There had been fears that the delays on the A380 programme would lead some airlines to cancel their orders altogether.

Airbus was also delighted that Singapore had chosen to become one of the launch customers for the A350, having not been on the initial list of 14 airlines which placed orders for the original plane - a much less ambitious aircraft based on the existing A330.

Singapore's decision to buy 20 A350s with the option to buy a further 20 takes the firm order book above 200 aircraft. It also means that Airbus has ended the Farnborough Airshow with firm orders and commitments for 182 aircraft valued at $21.5bn (£11.6bn).

Boeing said that for the year as a whole it had received more than 500 orders compared with fewer than 300 for Airbus.