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Dubai 2011: US Airline Spirit signs Airbus MoU

Posted 16 November 2011 · Add Comment

American low-cost airline Spirit has signed an MoU with Airbus to buy 73 A320 family airliners, comprising 45 A320neos and 30 standard A320s at a total book value of US$6.7 billion.

Spirit president and CEO Ben Baldanza (left) and Airbus COO John Leahy

Spirit president and CEO Ben Baldanza (left) and Airbus COO John Leahy

The aircraft will be delivered between 2016 and 2021 and all will feature Airbus’s ‘sharklets’, not only the A320neo variants.

Airbus COO, customers, John Leahy said that the deal would be made ‘firm’ by the end of 2011. He also said that with 95% airframe commonality between the A320 standards and A320neos, pilots would only need a 90-minute ‘self-trained’ course to enable them to fly both variants and all types within each family.

The engine choice between CFM’s LEAP-X and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G-JM will be made nearer the time of first delivery.
Spirit’s existing A320 fleet is powered by IAE’s V2500 engines – but this option will only be available on the 30 ‘standard’ aircraft in the new order.

The new aircraft will be used on Spirit’s targeted growth markets in the US and on Caribbean and Latin American routes.

The A320neo will help build on what Spirit president and CEO Ben Baldanza says is “the great economic success the airline has already enjoyed with our existing all-Airbus fleet of 35 A320 family aircraft”.

“We have the lowest fares in the USA,” said Baldanza, “and the current weak economic times are helping us as people still have to travel and they’re seeking the best deals that exist… and that’s Spirit.”

He also said that some of the order could be converted to A319neos or A321neos – but again, that decision would be taken nearer to the time of first delivery.

For the first time, Airbus has confirmed that it’s A320neo ‘sharklet’ wing tips will be available on all aircraft built post-2013 and that the anti-drag, fuel-saving feature will also be retrofittable.

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