SINGAPORE Feb 11 Airbus is putting the finishing touches on an order worth up to $8 billion for A380 superjumbos from Doric Lease Corp, sources close to the deal said on Tuesday.
The purchase, which follows a provisional order for 20 A380s announced at the Paris Airshow last June, coincides with plans by the leasing firm to change its name to "Amedeo".
Doric confirmed the name change at the Singapore Airshow but declined to comment on the progress of the airplane order.
The name change, to that of a famous late 19th century Italian explorer, marks a break from Doric's roots in property and energy finance and symbolizes the company's efforts to open new frontiers for the world's largest airliner.
Sales have generally been sluggish though Dubai's Emirates, the largest customer, placed an order in November for 50 aircraft that for the time being lifted doubts over production levels.
Both companies insist the aircraft has powerful efficiencies due to its size. It is capable of carrying 525 people in three classes but lessors have until now shied away or cancelled orders citing the high costs of changing configurations between customers and uncertainty over resale prices.
Doric may obtain some guarantees over reconfiguration costs as part of the deal, industry sources said.
Airbus declined to comment but sales chief John Leahy told journalists in Singapore that he hoped to make an A380 order announcement during the Asia's largest aerospace event, which opened on Tuesday.
Doric has said it aims to complete the deal in the first quarter as part of a strategy to become a new industry player specializing in wide-body aircraft.
Airbus may agree to update the A380's engines to help boost sales with encouragement from Rolls-Royce, one of its two engine suppliers, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.
People in the industry say that would not usually favour the task of leasing out current models, or help with their resale values, but Doric or Amedeo shrugged off the concerns.
"The A380 has unbeatable economics with or without re-engining," Doric managing director Mark Lapidus said.
Boeing sales chief John Wojick said on Tuesday the planemaker remained far less confident in the size of the market for large four-engined planes such as the A380 or its own 747-8 than its European rival Airbus. Boeing is investing instead in the 406-seat 777X instead, which has two engines.