After Boeing (BA) shocked the industry with a surprise deal with Emirates, rival Airbus (EADSY) responded Wednesday with a $49.5 billion aircraft order from USA investor Indigo Partners at the Dubai Airshow, the largest in Airbus' history. The deal will spread the jets out across Frontier Airlines in the U.S., Mexico's Volaris, Wizz Air of Hungary and newcomer JetSmart of Chile.
Until Wednesday, the only major deal announced at the Dubai Air Show came on Sunday when long-haul carrier Emirates purchased 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners in a 15.1 billion dollar (£11.4 billion) deal.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy, who is expected to retire at the end of the year, joked about that turn of events when today's sale was announced. A320neos list for $108.4 million apiece and A321neos at $127 million. These orders will take years to fill, and the headline price doesn't reflect the substantial discounts that aircraft makers offer in order to land such mega-deals.
This year, however, Airbus's share of the order tally had dropped to 35 percent before the Dubai show, with a rejuvenated Boeing management having made advances in Singapore and elsewhere.More news: USA delegation in Israel to soothe concerns over Syria ceasefire deal
The stunning magnitude of the deal - which Airbus called its "largest single commercial announcement ever" - caught many in the aviation industry by surprise.
Airbus and Boeing have landed three mega-deals this week for a total of 695 planes worth $92 billion.
Speaking at the Dubai Airshow Tuesday, the Chief Executive of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the deal underlined the vitality of air traffic in North Africa.
The plane maker, however, refused to divulge details on its ongoing talks with Emirates for a potential order for additional A380 superjombos.More news: Egyptair to buy 12 Bombardier aircraft
But the biggest order by value came from Emirates airline of Dubai in 2013.
Worth almost $50 billion at list prices, the deal is a major rebound for Airbus, which has significantly lagged its US arch rival Boeing in orders this year.
So far, there's been little news for Airbus, which has pinned hopes of continuing production of its A380 double-decker jumbo jet on Emirates, the world's largest operator of the aircraft.
Emirates now relies exclusively on the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 777 for its flights, making it the largest operator of both.More news: Star Wars Battlefront II Hero Unlock Costs Slashed After Fan Outrage
The Emirates' snub even came up at the news conference Wednesday, when a reporter asked Airbus if another deal could be coming.