UPDATE 1-Doric expects to complete Airbus A380 order soon
DUBLIN Jan 20 (Reuters) - Doric Lease Corp expects to finalize an order for 20 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets in the next couple of months, a senior executive said on Monday.
The Dublin-based leasing firm placed the order, worth $8 billion at list prices, at last year's Paris Airshow, hoping to find new customers for the world's largest airliner following a period of slack sales.
In a separate move, Emirates airline subsequently placed a firm order for 50 of the aircraft. But while that order has been confirmed, Doric's purchase remains to be finalized and is widely seen as depending on airlines agreeing to lease it.
"Airbus has said it expects to have the order finalized in the next couple of months. That is where we are and where we expect to be," Paul Kent, chief commercial officer, told a conference hosted by Airline Economics.
"We will have news relatively quickly on completion," he added.
Doric has made progress in placing the aircraft it plans to order, Kent added, but declined to give details.
The 525-seat, four-engined A380 was hailed as the answer to crowded airports and scarce landing slots when it was launched at the turn of the century.
But sales have failed so far to reach the potential identified by Airbus after the industry turned its attention to the latest generation of smaller twin-engined aircraft.
Kent said predictions of increased congestion and urbanization would ultimately prove the case for the A380.
In a potential obstacle for sales of the A380, worth more than $400 million at list prices, some industry experts have said Airbus's own 350-seat A350-1000 rivals the economics of the A380 despite spreading its costs over 175 fewer seats.
But Kent said the A380 would hold its own against the largest twin-engined jets.
He said the A380's cash operating costs per seat, a key barometer of performance, were 7 percent lower than those of the A350-1000 and 24 percent lower than the current 777-300ER.
He displayed a chart suggesting the superjumbo would perform about 10 percent better than Boeing's planned new 777X.
Rekindling a dispute between jumbo jet economics, he also claimed a 19 percent per-seat cost advantage for the A380 against its direct competitor, the four-engined Boeing 747-8.
Airbus and Boeing were involved in a bitter clash over their competing claims for their four-engined jumbos last year, with Boeing claiming an 8 percent advantage for the 747-8.