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Airbus claims 'biggest order in aviation history'

Airbus says Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has ordered 180 aircraft, including 150 of its new A320neo fuel saving jets, in what it calls "the biggest order in aviation history."
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has ordered 180 Airbus aircraft, including 150 of the European aviation company's new A320neo fuel saving jets, in what Airbus called Wednesday "the biggest order in aviation history."

The remainder of the 30 aircraft will be Airbus' standard A320 single-aisle short and medium haul jets.

Airbus said the A320neo is 15 percent more fuel efficient than the older model thanks to a new engine and modified wingtips.

The firm order follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies in January. Airbus said then that the deal was worth $15.6 billion at list prices.

The order is the largest ever submitted to a single company in terms of planes. The previous record was an order by China's Central Aircraft Sales Corp. for 150 aircraft each from Airbus and Boeing in 2005.

Airbus also said Wednesday Chilean carrier LAN Airlines has ordered 20 of its A320neo fuel efficient aircraft. Airbus has racked up more than 600 orders and committments since it launched the A320neo last December as rising fuel prices have pushed airlines to look for more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Airbus outsold U.S. rival Boeing Co in the first two days of the show, notching up around $26 billion of orders dominated by sales of its revamped A320neo family.

Boeing is yet to decide whether to upgrade or redesign its top-selling single-aisle 737 as competition mounts from manufacturers in Brazil, Canada, China and Russia in the largest aircraft segment.

Boeing has announced orders worth some $19 billion at the show, dominating sales of more expensive wide-body aircraft.

The healthy demand from buyers has provided evidence that a solid upswing in civil aviation is underway, powered by emerging markets in Asia. High fuel prices have also given buyers a new sense of urgency to buy fuel-efficient planes.

Airbus believes it has the upper hand with the A320neo, whose more efficient engines save airlines 15 percent in fuel costs, according to the company.

Boeing conceded it might lose some custom while it ponders the future of its 737. The company said on Sunday it would decide by year-end on its new strategy.