The preliminary deal for A320neo-family narrowbody jets was signed at the Dubai Airshow and offers a major boost to Airbus, which has lagged arch-rival Boeing in orders this year.
After Boeing (BA) shocked the industry with a surprise deal with Emirates, rival Airbus (EADSY) responded Wednesday with a $49.5 billion aircraft order from USA investor Indigo Partners at the Dubai Airshow, the largest in Airbus' history.
Airbus's preliminary deal was expected to be worth up to $50 billion, but the price could come further down by the time both parties agree to finalize the nuts and bolts of the deal.
The planes aren't all for one airline.
Indigo Partners' airlines have placed previous orders for a total of 427 Airbus A320-family aircraft. The show recorded deals worth $113.8 billion.
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After final purchase deals with each are confirmed, likely by the end of the year, Hungary's Wiz Air will receive 72 A320neos and 74 A321neos, U.S. carrier Frontier Airlines will receive 100 A320neos and 34 A321neos, Chile's JetSMART will receive 56 A320neos and 14 A321neos and Mexico's Volaris will receive 46 A320neos and 34 A321neos.
The sheer size of the deal has caught many in the aviation industry by surprise.
"We are honored that Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa's leading carriers, has again selected Boeing airplanes to grow its operations, adding to an order book that includes the 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner", said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Kevin McAllister. The deal was signed earlier on Wednesday, with U.S investor Bill Franke increasing his bet on budget airlines.
Leahy said: "Indigo Partners have been a tremendous customer and supporter of the Airbus single-aisle fleet for many years". The third Airbus deal involving 15 Airbus 320neo was announced by AerCap Holdings and Egyptair.
Wednesday's historic deal represents a final grand act for Airbus's chief salesman, John Leahy, who plans to retire from the company once a successor is selected.