PARIS – At the 52nd Paris Air Show on Monday, General Electric Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) signed a firm order for 100 A320neo-family aircraft. The planes will, of course, be equipped with GE joint venture CFM’s LEAP-1A  engines, and will be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

The new order brings the GECAS’ lifetime Airbus order tally to almost 600 planes, 220 of which are for the A320neo family.

GECAS President and CEO Alec Burger said, “We view this as a continuation of our tremendous alliance. Our overall neo order is up to 220 [frames], and we are thrilled with that… The A320neo family aircraft powered by CFM’s LEAP-1A engines, with now proven increased fuel efficiencies, longer range, and higher seating capacity, will continue to be one of our core assets in our lease portfolio. The A321 version has also gained strong acceptance from customers in various new markets proving the versatility of the type.”

Burger said that GECAS has no commitments at this time for the A321LR, the extended range variant of the A321neo. This stands in marked contrast to rival Air Lease Corporation and its head Steven Udvar Hazy, who have bet heavily on the A321LR as part of its commitment for the A321neo.

With the order, GECAS becomes the largest lessor customer for the A320neo family and the third largest customer for the family overall, trailing behind Asian ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs) IndiGo and AirAsia (albeit by a decent margin).

GECAS’ 220 A320neo family jets on order just come in ahead of AerCap’s 211, even though the latter is the world’s largest independent aircraft lessor.

Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said, “Today we reinforce our partnership with GECAS, with 100 A320/321 NEO aircraft. They (GECAS) are among the first to place and allocate the aircraft. It will take our competitor several years to certify their aircraft. We continue to innovate.”

Leahy also said that just a few years ago, the A321 was being delivered at 5 aircraft per month, but in the next 3-4 years, the 321NEO will be delivered at 30 per month, accounting for close to 50 percent of A320neo family deliveries.

A321neo holds its own despite launch of 737 MAX 10

The purchase of additional A321neos (the exact number is unconfirmed, but could number 50 or more) comes on the same day that GECAS purchased 20 737 MAX 10 jets by converting a portion of its 170 737 MAX 8 jets on order to Boeing’s new MAX family member.

Despite announcing orders from six different customers at the time of writing (12:45 pm CET) on day one of PAS 2017, Boeing only managed a total of 40-50 new orders for the 737 MAX 10.

In one fell swoop with this order from GECAS, Airbus may have matched Boeing in new sales of the A321neo on day one. In contrast, 64 of the 110+ orders announced on day 1 were conversions from existing 737 MAX customers.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy remarked during the press conference, announcing the order that Airbus views the new 737 MAX-10 as a competitor to Boeing’s own MAX-9, rather than the A321neo. “We have ten more seats and 1,000 miles more range, and up to 10 percent better fuel burn,” said Leahy.

Despite Leahy’s salesmanship, his comments are not without merit. The 737 MAX 10 has gained some initial orders momentum, but largely from existing 737 MAX customers. It remains to be seen whether Boeing can gin up momentum from new customers (Tibet Financial Leasing aside as Chinese lessors will buy the MAX 10 regardless of its economic merits) at PAS 2017 over the next couple of days.

In the meantime, Airbus has already stolen on day one some of the thunder from the 737 MAX 10 with yet another massive lessor order for its A320neo family jets.