Today Airbus announced that this Himalayan airline has ordered an A320neo (LEAP).  The airline also has three A319s in service. this airline operates in a challenging environment as the image below shows.

Airbus notes the “CFM Leap-1A26E1 engines optimized for high altitude operations”.  Paro, the airline’s home base, is located at an altitude of 7,300 feet and surrounded by high mountains and is one of the world’s most challenging airports.

The announcement prompted a memory from a previous Innovation Days in Toulouse.  At that event, we were given a briefing by Airbus’ Dr. Kiran Rao.  After the briefing, during the Q&A, we asked Dr. Rao why Airbus was still focusing on the A319neo given the lack of market interest.  He responded that certain airlines needed its hot and high performance – he cited airlines operating in the Himalayas as an example.

We understand that indeed these airlines do have special performance needs.  But the A320neo has the power needed for the mission.  The A319neo was not what the airline bought.  Despite it having three A319s in service.

New questions: Since the airline selected the larger A320neo, does this mean it no longer requires the smaller aircraft?  Also, does it mean Airbus is not marketing the A319neo as it might have a few years back?  And does it mean the airline would not consider a CS300?

Looking ahead, post-Farnborough, will Airbus offer the CS300 to its customers that want to replace their A319s?  How often should we expect to see Airbus try to upsize an A319 operator to an A320?  Airbus has a powerful lineup of products from 100-160 seats after the air show.  It will have four solutions to offer with a lot of overlap.

The Airbus sales team will have to develop some creative language to work through this.  What was a probably described as a weak competitor as recently as last year, will now have to be described in an entirely new light?

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