Long-haul return to form benefits Airbus

It’s a fast week ahead for Airbus. Not only should the Toulouse aircraft manufacturer, in all likelihood, present very good financial results for its third quarter, Friday, October 28, but it could also register a giant order for the A350. Saudi Arabia, which is preparing to launch a new airline in the fourth quarter, is in “advanced discussions” with Airbus, we hear from the aircraft manufacturer, to acquire 80 long-haul A350s, including 40 firm copies and 40 optional.

For the manufacturer, it will be, if it materializes, the largest long-haul order in its history. A contract valued in total, list price, at nearly 28 billion dollars (28.17 billion euros). This order is part of the Vision 2030 program, which should enable Saudi Arabia to prepare its economy for the post-oil era. With this objective, the kingdom wants to eventually compete with Gulf companies and establish itself as a regional hub with 100 million tourists and nearly 30 million passengers in transit.

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The icing on the cake, the contract with the Saudis may well not be the only one. Indeed, the American company United Airlines is also considering placing a giant order for long-haul flights for around 35 billion dollars (35.16 billion euros) list price. Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive, told pilots in training that he was preparing an order to “three digits” to renew the fleet. Announced by December, the choice of the carrier, based in Chicago and which thinks of acquiring a hundred wide-body aircraft, would be the Airbus A350 and the 787 Dreamliner of its competitor Boeing. The financial markets are betting on this good news. Over the past five sessions, Airbus shares have gained almost 3%.

Business boom

These two potential orders mark the starting point for the long-haul rebound. This segment of air traffic had been almost completely shut down during the Covid-19 epidemic. It also takes the longest to leave, hampered in particular by the closure of the Chinese market. As with medium-haul, almost two years ago, companies across the Atlantic were the first to anticipate the recovery and, to make the most of it, are modernizing and increasing their fleets.

In the United States, the three major airlines, American, Delta and United, have almost returned to their activity levels of 2019

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