PARIS — Leasing companies are enormous business in aviation and often buy more aircraft than several airlines combined. This year’s Paris Air Show at Le Bourget is no exception, with impressively large orders announced by Airbus and its lease customers.

Indeed, leasing company dynamo Steven Udvar-Házy, head of Air Lease and formerly of ILFC, has been seriously successful, donated $66 millioin to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and has the Dulles Airport annex (where a Boeing 367-80, Concorde, space shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay sit among over a hundred display aircraft) named after him.

People in the aviation industry listen to what Udvar-Házy and the other leasing company CEOs have to say, since they buy aircraft today that airlines may need a decade down the line. One example: Air Astana.

Air Astana Arranges Seven A320neo Family Jets, Including “757 Next Gen” A321neoLR

Fresh from its Skytrax best-in-region win, Kazakhstan’s flag carrier Air Astana has signed for seven aircraft from the A320neo family: two A320neo, one A321neo and one A321neoLR aircraft. The A321neoLR adds fuel tanks in the underfloor area of the aircraft to extend range, and Airbus is proposing it as a replacement for the Boeing 757-200 on routes that aircraft now operates.

Air Astana’s Peter Foster and Air Lease’s Steven Udvar-Házy seem very pleased with their agreement. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S)
Air Astana’s Peter Foster and Air Lease’s Steven Udvar-Házy seem very pleased with their agreement. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S)

An A320neo will arrive in spring next year, while the rest will be delivered in 2018 and 2019 on operating leases from Los Angeles-based aircraft lessor Air Lease Corporation.

“The new fleet of A320neo family aircraft will operate on the airline’s domestic network, as well as international services to destinations in China, India, Russia and the UAE,” Air Astana said in a statement, adding that the A321neoLR has the legs for London, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh and Hong Kong services.

Air Astana will outfit the A321neoLR with what the airline calls 16 “lie-flat business class seats” and 150 economy seats, which would suggest a product like the B/E Diamond seat seen on 757s at Delta and United or the business class of the American transcon A321. The regular neo aircraft will be outfitted with standard business class (16 for the A320neo, 28 for the A321neo) and economy class seats (132 in the A320neo, 151 in the A321neo), all of which will come with individual inflight entertainment.

“The Airbus A320 has proved to be a tremendous success in service with Air Astana over the past nine years, with enormous passenger appeal, low operating costs, high reliability and an outstanding safety record,” Peter Foster, Air Astana President and CEO, said this week.

GE’s Lease Arm Buys Up 60 A320neo and A321neo…

GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) made a firm order for 60 aircraft in the A320neo family here, with President and CEO Norman C.T. Liu calling the aircraft “the ideal solution for our customers who are seeking a product which offers them both attractive operating economics and reliable technology.”

Airbus customers chief John Leahy hit the nail on the head when he noted that “GECAS’ order for more of our best-selling A320neo aircraft underscores the continuing strong market demand for these innovative, fuel-efficient and productive aircraft.” The A320neo is a strong seller and will continue to be in high demand.

(Credits: Airbus S.A.S)
(Credits: Airbus S.A.S)

Expect these aircraft to appear in the fleets of airlines around the world over the next five to 10 years.

…While Air Lease Picks Up a Small Handful of Aircraft

Keeping its name in the headlines, Air Lease bought four Airbus aircraft — an A350-900 plus three current-generation A320ceo family aircraft: an A321ceo and three A320ceo.

(Credits: Airbus S.A.S)
(Credits: Airbus S.A.S)

Airbus says “ALC’s fast growing portfolio of Airbus aircraft stands at a total of 262, of which 66 are widebodies (15 A330ceo, 25 A330neo, 21 A350-900, 5 A350-1000) and 196 are single-aisles (30 A320ceo, 31 A320neo, 26 A321ceo, 109 A321neo).”

Udvar-Házy is one of the industry’s most outspoken customers. In his own words: “We take great pride in our close cooperation with Airbus over the past years, which has led to the successful launch of the A330neo and A321LR. ALC is fully focussed on offering its customers the most modern, technologically advanced and economically efficient aircraft, which certainly includes the A320 family and A350 XWB.”

Altogether, with a plethora of airline orders, a  major relaunch of the A320 family passenger-to-freighter market, spectacular flying displays by the A350 and A380 and static displays including an Airbus A380, A350, A320 and an all-business A319 from Qatar Airways, Airbus’ home turf air show has been a remarkable success for the company.