What Are The Single Biggest Passenger Plane Orders?

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Major commercial aircraft orders, the ones that go into the hundreds of planes, are the kind of orders manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus dream of. They’re the big fish that the planemakers are trying to catch. Securing one deal for hundreds of planes is a huge boost for the winner: an extended backlog, the profit-level of multiple contracts with the work of only one, and that boost of program credibility that would come with investing billions of dollars. So what are some of the biggest single commercial aircraft orders in recent memory? Let’s find out.

flydubai
flyDubai is an all-737 fleet. Photo: flydubai

While we were unable to get solid confirmation from either manufacturer (Airbus was unable to respond before the time of publication), we received a bit of a head-start from Boeing, who pointed us in the direction of three particular orders. Although such massive orders would draw a significant discount from list prices, we’ll rank these deals in order of list-value:

Emirates: 150 Boeing 777X in 2013

In 2013, Emirates announced a landmark order for 150 Boeing 777X aircraft valued at $76 billion ($83 billion in 2020), with additional 50 purchase rights. The Dubai-based carrier wanted to obtain 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s.

The deal was hailed by Emirates as “the single largest aircraft order by value in the history of U.S. commercial aviation.”

However, six years later, Emirates would reduce its order for the delayed 777X by 24 planes to 126, swapping them for 30 787 Dreamliner jets valued at $8.8 billion at list prices. Despite the swap, this still stands as the single largest aircraft order.

777X blown apart
Emirates has 126 777X aircraft on order. Photo: Emirates Airlines

Indigo Partners: 430 Airbus A320neos in 2017

In 2017, Airbus confirmed a deal to supply 430 aircraft to US private equity fund Indigo Partners. The value of this deal was said to be about $49.5 billion ($51.8 billion in 2020).

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The order was for 274 A320neos and 156 A321neos, which would be allocated to the airlines under the Indigo Partner portfolio, including:

  • Wizz Air
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Jetsmart
  • Mexico’s Volaris
indigo partners airlines
Three of the four Indigo Partners airlines will also get the A321XLR. Image: Airbus

IndiGo: 300 Airbus A320neos in 2019

It was just last year that India’s largest airline IndiGo (as opposed to Indigo Partners) placed an order for 300 Airbus A320neo family planes. The value of this deal was pegged at $33 billion at recent list prices. The order was a mix of A320neo, A321neo, and A321 XLR jets.

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IndiGo all a320neo
IndiGo is looking to phase out its A320ceos as rapidly as possible. Photo: Airbus

Lion Air: 230 Boeing 737s in 2012

In 2012, Jakarta-based Lion Air finalized a firm order for 201 737 MAXs and 29 Next-Generation 737-900ERs (extended range). The agreement also included purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes.

“With orders for 230 airplanes valued at $22.4 billion* at list prices, this deal is the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing’s history by both dollar value and total number of airplanes. Lion Air will also acquire purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes.” -Boeing press release

*$22.4 billion in 2012 is equivalent to $25 billion in 2020.

Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8
Before Emirates’ record-breaking order, Lion Air had set the record for the largest order with its 230 737s. Photo: Boeing

flyDubai: 225 Boeing 737 MAX in 2017

In 2017, UAE-based flydubai announced a commitment for 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The deal was valued at $27 billion ($28.24 billion in 2020).

[This] aircraft order underlines the success of flydubai’s founding vision helping to strengthen trade and tourism links across its network and has contributed to the enhanced connectivity of Dubai’s aviation hub. In under a decade, flydubai has extended its network to 97 destinations in 44 countries and we look forward to the arrival of the new aircraft from 2019 in support of our future ambitions.” -His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, flydubai

flydubai
flyDubai placed an order in 2017 for 225 737 MAX jets. Photo: flydubai

Were you at all surprised by which orders were listed here? Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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