Airbus A320neo Takes Its First Flight, Will Fly for American in 2017

TOULOUSE, France (TheStreet) -- The first flight of the Airbus A320neo on Thursday went smoothly, and has airlines eagerly awaiting the first delivery, expected in the fourth quarter of  2015.

The launch customer is Qatar Airways. Lufthansa, an early customer, has ordered 115 neos and expects its first delivery in 2016. Most of those planes will be deployed at Lufthansa and sister carrier SWISS.

 

American (AAL) , which operates the world's largest Airbus fleet, will take its first delivery in 2017. American has orders for 100 aircraft. Ten are expected in 2017, with 25 in 2018 and 65 in 2019.

JetBlue (JBLU) expects its first A320neo in 2018.

Aerospace consultant Scott Hamilton said airlines will welcome the neo. "Anytime you get an airplane that will reduce fuel costs by 15% to 20%, that makes a huge difference to airlines, which measure profits by pennies," he said.

"Airbus has now shown that everything is going to plan," Nico Buchholz, executive vice president for Lufthansa Group fleet management said Thursday in a prepared statement.

Lufthansa's board first approved an A320neo order in March 2011 and has been upping the quantity since then. On Sept. 19, it added 15 aircraft to its order. Besides the reduction in fuel usage, the aircraft produces less noise, Lufthansa said.

Airbus said the flight "marks the beginning of a rigorous flight test campaign involving eight aircraft involving all models" of the A320 family of aircraft. Airbus has more than 3,200 orders from 60 airlines for the airplane.

Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

To contact this writer, click here.

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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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