India’s airline IndiGo buys 500 planes from Airbus

PARIS –

India’s IndiGo airline is buying 500 passenger jets from European planemaker Airbus, the two companies said Monday, in a record-setting order that underscores surging demand for air travel fueled by the country’s economic growth.

IndiGo, India’s dominant carrier, is buying the narrow-body A320 aircraft in what the companies said was the single biggest purchase agreement in commercial aviation history.

Executives from both companies announced the deal on the opening day of the Paris Air Show, the world’s largest event focusing on aviation and space industry. They didn’t disclose how much the order was worth, but it would likely amount to tens of billions of dollars.

The order is “an enormous milestone,” IndiGo CEO Peter Elbers said at a press conference. “No one has ever ordered an order of this magnitude. And it speaks to the potential of Indian aviation and the ambitions which IndiGo is having.”

The purchase highlights how the two companies are “democratizing affordable air travel for millions of people in the world’s fastest growing aviation market,” Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said in a statement.

New Delhi-based IndiGo’s order surpasses another mammoth deal signed months earlier by Air India for 470 aircraft from both Airbus and US-based rival Boeing.

Indian airlines are racing to tap the surging demand for travel from the nation’s growing ranks of middle-class consumers. The A320 jets that IndiGo is buying are typically used on short-haul routes.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said IndiGo’s order “is a sign of the “incredible growth for aviation” and an “opportunity for Indian people to fly for the first time.

The planemaker also notched up orders from Flynas, a budget Saudi Arabian carrier that is buying 30 A320neo jets, and Air Mauritius, which is buying three wide-body A350 aircraft for use on long-haul routes to Europe and South Asia.

Airbus likes to unveil major jet orders at the air show held every other year in its home country. Airbus is one of France’s — and Europe’s — biggest companies, and its performance at the Paris air show is seen as important to its public image in France.

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