Airbus Group NV (AIR) won a firm order from lessor Amedeo for 20 A380 superjumbos valued at $8.3 billion, the planemaker’s first for the double-decker plane this year.
Amedeo signed for the planes to be delivered between 2016 and 2020, Mark Lapidus, the lessor’s chief executive officer, said at the Singapore Airshow today. The purchase is “speculative,” given that Amedeo hasn’t yet lined up any airlines to take the planes, Lapidus said. The order is a confirmation of a preliminary agreement signed in June.
The commitment from closely held Amedeo is a litmus test for the A380, a tough sell for Airbus, which has relied heavily on Emirates for bulk of its orders. The Dubai-based carrier agreed to buy another 50 A380s in November, bringing the number of superjumbos it has ordered to 140, half the entire backlog for the plane.
“The aircraft is unrivaled in terms of its economic performance,” Lapidus said at a briefing in Singapore. “This will help the airlines that are perhaps shy in a difficult financial environment.”
The lessor is betting on the double-decker jet’s appeal with airlines that only want a small number of the aircraft to serve global routes while avoiding large upfront financial commitments to Airbus. Amedeo would only need to sign up three or four carriers to make the order work, Lapidus said in June.
Amedeo was formed yesterday out of Doric, whose business model was managing A380 assets after finding investors to buy planes from airlines in so-called sale and leaseback transactions. The lessor has private-equity backing, Lapidus said, declining to disclose the name the investors. Amedeo has staff of about 15 people and will grow to 20 by yearend.
One keystone of Lapidus’s plan is to outfit the A380s with more seats. The company aims to have the planes with 11-abreast in economy, compared with 10 in the current version.
While Airbus markets the double-decker as easily accommodating 525 people in a standard three classes, operators have generally preferred less-dense configurations. The majority seat fewer than 500, outfitting the plane as a luxury flagship. Korean Air Lines Co. (003490) carries only 407 people in its A380s.
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