An Airbus rendering of an IndiGo A320 NEO

Having previously ordered  280 Airbus A320s  (100 A320 CEOs and 180 A320 NEOs) India’s largest domestic carrier IndiGo has just signed an MoU for a further 250 A320 NEOs.

The airline hasn’t chosen which new tech engine option it will take, but with 430 of the NEO version now signed up for,  the contest between the two contenders, America’s Pratt & Whitney GTF design and the French-American CFM’s more conventional power plant will be as fierce as the rivalry between Airbus and Boeing.

The Boeing 737 MAX family which competes with the Airbus A320 NEO line comes only with a version of the CFM engine. The most recent large orders for the MAXs were from Ryanair for 100 firm plus 100 options early last month, and Garuda Indonesia, earlier this week, for 50, including four conversions of an existing order for current model 737-800s.

Airbus began flying its P & W powered A320 NEO at the end of September for first deliveries toward the end of next year, while Boeing’s MAXs won’t strut their stuff until 2016 for entry into service a year later.

Airbus has won 60 percent of the orders for new engine tech single aisle jets and seems to have an unshakeable lead over Boeing, so much so that there is growing speculation Boeing will announce a new 757 sized replacement in the medium term which will in fact become its single aisle contender against the Airbus NEOs at the higher capacity end of this part of the market .

The large orders each plane maker has for single aisle jets of between 150-240 seats have led to speculation that not all of the airlines that have signed up for them will be able to take delivery in the time frames they chose.

However both aircraft makers impose serious penalties on cancellations, which can only be avoided by deferring deliveries over a longer time framem although sometimes incurring an additional annual penalty fee.

The end result is likely to be that the big picture market forecast for increased demand for single aisle jets in India and China will be met, but not as quickly as some of the customers for these jets originally expected.

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