Airbus has won the world’s biggest ever commercial aircraft order – 180 planes for Indian low cost airline IndiGo.
Most are for an upgraded versions of Airbus’ best selling A320. The first is due to be delivered in 2015.
This give Airbus a big boost in its annual sales battle with US rival Boeing.
Shares in its parent company EADS took off on news of the 12 billion euro deal.
The purchases underline India’s development as a major aviation market and comes as a welcome boost to EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois, who has been pushing expansion into emerging markets.
“It is the best way to start the year. I can’t underestimate the size and importance of this deal,” Gallois told EADS’ annual news conference.
He said he expects EADS profit to recover from 2012 after being held back by hedging, programme costs and government spending cuts. Underlying profitability this year will be in the same range as the target for 2010, he said.
IndiGo is India’s third-largest domestic carrier by market share after less than five years flying. It is owned by InterGlobe Enterprises and industry veteran Rakesh Gangwal, a former chief executive of US Airways.
“India has a population of about 1.1 billion people. The air traffic is growing at the rate of 15 percent per annum. So that makes it the fastest growing market in the world for air travel. Just to put things into perspective, the Indian rail network carries more passengers in one day than the airline network carries in one year,” said Kiran Rao, an executive vice president at Airbus.
He added: “We have done all our forecasts. A very very pessimistic forecast says that India will require at least 1,000 aeroplanes in the coming 20 years. But that’s most likely going to be about 2,000.”