Airbus SAS secured an order for five additional A380 superjumbos from Singapore Airlines Ltd., the first carrier to fly the double decker, in a much-needed vote of confidence after trailing a sales target this year.
The order for the aircraft, with a combined list price of about $2 billion, is part of a broader purchase by the Asian carrier. Singapore said today it is also adding 20 A350-900s to double its fleet of the long-range jet. The A350 is the European planemaker’s newest wide-body model and is undergoing final assembly for entry into service in late 2014.
Airbus has struggled to win orders this year for its A380 flagship model, hurt by an economic slump and as cracks appeared in wing components that will require eight weeks for repairs. The only order this year so far was from Russia’s OAO Transaero Airlines, leaving the manufacturer trailing a target of selling 30 units to customers in 2012.
“It’s clearly a good sign if Singapore comes back, because they are quite a demanding customer,” said Zafar Khan, an analyst at Societe Generale in London who has a “buy” rating on the shares of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.
Other customers that have come back with additional orders include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which added two more A380s in September 2011 to an existing order for 12. Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest airline, in 2006 added eight more A380s to an original order for 12 and Emirates ordered 32 more in 2010 to bring its total order book to 90.
Singapore started flying the A380 in 2007. The carrier offers the aircraft in a three-seat configuration, with first-class passengers enjoying amenities including a closed-off cabin that comes with a full-size bed and flatscreen televisions.
The A380, which typically seats about 520 passengers on two decks, is Airbus’s response to Boeing Co.’s 747 jumbo. That plane’s latest variant, the 747-8, has also failed to sustain the momentum of earlier versions. The A380 costs about $389.9 million, though customers typically get discounts.
Airbus has delivered 20 A380s so far this year, and would need to hand over 10 more to reach its annual target. The company has delivered 87 A380s to customers so far.