Actual aircraft prices are a well-guarded subject. Neither airlines nor manufacturers like to disclose the true value of an order. One thing is certain: hardly anyone actually pays the set price from the catalog. However, since the list price is what is publicly available, let’s take a look at the official cost of Airbus aircraft.
First, a note on list prices
When it comes to how much aircraft cost to buy, it is important to differentiate between list price and the price that airlines will actually end up paying depending on the size of their orders. List prices are the stated values for which something is first offered for sale.
Meanwhile, when buying something in bulk – which tends to be the norm for aircraft, this is usually subject to substantial discounts. Industry sources say that a general rule of thumb is to take the list price and divide it by two, and you would be somewhere closer to the actual number.
All prices in this article are retrieved from Airbus’ 2018 average list price document, available via the planemaker’s website.
The much-lauded and up-and-coming Airbus A220 comes in two variants. With a 2-3 economy configuration, the narrow narrowbody has a list price of $81 million for the smaller A220-100 version. The larger and, thus far, more popular variant, the A220-300, is listed for $91.5 million.
Of course, carriers like Delta Air Lines are not going to pay full price when putting in an order for 95 of the type. Nor will airBaltic, now an all-Airbus A220 carrier launching its own maintenance training division.
The smallest and rarest of the Airbus A320 family, the A318, is also the cheapest of Airbus’ offerings. The plane, known as the Baby Bus, comes in at $77.5 million at list price. It has not exactly been a best-seller for Airbus, with only 81 orders since the start of production in 2001. While Frontier Airlines was the launch customer, the only carrier with a substantial order was Air France, which still operates 18 of the type. However, these are meant to be replaced by A220s.
The A319, which took its first flight in 1995, has sold 1,486 copies. The current engine option – ceo – version of the type goes for $92.3 million at list price. However, the new engine option, the A319neo, which thus far has orders for 84 jets, goes for $101.5 million. Not surprising, seeing as the engine is the most expensive part of an airliner.
American Airlines is the type’s largest operator, with 133 in its fleet. However, most of these came from the merger with US Airways at the end of 2013, so it is difficult to determine their market value.
A320 and A321
American Airlines is not only the carrier with the most A319s but also the largest A320 family operator in total. It has no less than 424 of both the ceo and neo variations in its fleet. The A320ceo costs a neat $101 million at list price, while the A320neo goes for $110.6 million. The A321, on the other hand, costs $118.3 million and $129.5 million, respectively.
However, it is unlikely that IndiGo paid anywhere near such sums when making its record-breaking order for 300 A320 family aircraft in October 2019. Over the last decade, the Indian low-cost carrier has ordered over 700 of the neo versions and even managed to keep taking deliveries at a normal pace throughout 2020.
The oldest Airbus widebody still in production, the A330, comes in no less than five versions. The A330-200 is listed for $238.5 million, while the freighter version costs $241.7 million, and the A330-800 (neo) goes for $259.9 million. The A330-800, as we know, is very rare, with only 14 on order. Uganda Airlines is expecting delivery of its second out of two in the coming week, with the only mildly substantial order coming from Kuwait Airlines for eight.
An A330-300, on the other hand, is listed at $264.2 million, and the A330-900 (neo) is initially priced at $296.4 million. AirAsiaX has orders for 78 of the A330-900 and 20 A330-300s. However, with the long-haul branch of the multinational Asian low-cost airline going through restructuring, it is now looking to withdraw from its purchase commitments with the planemaker. This could end up costing Airbus billions of dollars.
It is not only A330 orders Airbus would miss out on if AirAsiaX walks away from its agreements. The embattled airline also has orders for 30 A321neos and ten A350-900s. An A350-900 costs $317.4 million according to the list price. Even if AirAsia X got them for half the asking price, that would mean close to $1.6 billion in losses for Airbus.
Its sibling, the A350-1000 sells for $366.5 million. The A350 has proven popular with airlines and has 930 orders to date. Qatar Airways has 50 of the type in its fleet – with orders for another 28 of the A350-1000.
Finally, the turn has come to Airbus’ Giant of the Skies. Whether or not it was before its time, or airlines were just not using it properly, the project never became the commercial success Airbus was hoping for. Of course, the planemaker has now announced that it is ceasing its A380 production. Only its – by far – largest operator, Emirates, still has another eight to be delivered.
While the behemoth plane was still for sale, it was listed for $445.6 million. How much lower the unit price was when Emirates ordered 50 in one go at the 2013 Dubai Airshow is anyone’s guess.
Which is your favorite Airbus aircraft, and why? Let us know in the comments.