From record aircraft orders to landmark mergers and significant investment into the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the aviation industry has received billions of dollars of investment this year as it continues to recover from the damage of the pandemic shutdowns.
Now, as the year comes to a close, Airport Technology is taking a look back at some of the biggest and most impactful deals to take place in the aviation industry across 2023, including the largest commercial aircraft order in history and a game-changing acquisition for the US aviation sector.
In a deal that continued evolving throughout the year, Germany’s Lufthansa first entered its bid to acquire a minority stake in Italian airline ITA Airways at the beginning of the year.
The agreement saw Lufthansa buy a 41% stake in the company in a deal worth €325m ($356.8m) which includes an option to acquire the remaining shares at a later date.
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Air India further cemented its position as one of the fastest growing airlines in the world with this order in February that saw it sign an agreement to acquire 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing with two orders worth $70bn.
The deal, which was later finalised at the Paris Air Show, was part of the airline’s desire to expand on both its domestic and international offerings, with a mix of single-aisle and widebody aircraft.
One of many airlines to sign multi-year agreements on the use of SAF in 2023, Hawaiian’s deal with in-development biofuel company Gevo was one of the biggest, despite not being expected to come into effect until 2029.
The deal will last five years with the supply of 50m gallons of SAF and is part of the airline’s target of achieving net zero across its operations by 2050, in line with industry standards. The airline will remain in the skies in 2024, despite being acquired by fellow West Coast carrier Alaska.
The low-budget airline continued its significant expansion and modernisation plans with this deal which was the largest in its history, acquiring up to 300 737 MAX 10 aircraft from Boeing.
The $40bn deal saw Ryanair order 150 of the aircraft, with the option to order 150 more, as it sought to replace ageing planes and build on strong post-pandemic travel demands.
While both Airbus and Boeing celebrated successful showings at the Paris Air Show, it was the French manufacturer that clinched one of the aviation industry’s biggest deals ever with Indigo’s order for 500 jets, the largest commercial aircraft order in history.
The deals didn’t stop there for Airbus either, with the company signing and finalising a range of other deals for a variety of aircraft with airlines from around the world.
While the previously mentioned order from Air India was Boeing’s largest at the Paris Air Show, the US manufacturer also welcomed a number of other deals with international airlines and a leasing company.
Boeing’s total orders from across the air show added up to 356 orders to its backlog with a specific focus on its 737 MAX family of aircraft as well as the 787 Dreamliner group of planes.
The deal featuring the largest amount of aircraft on this list, NetJets 15 year agreement with manufacturer Textron Aviation will see the historic private jet company have the option to acquire up to 1,500 Cessna business aircraft.
Beginning in 2025, the order includes NetJets adding new Cessna Citation Ascend, Cessna Latitude, and Citation Longitude aircraft to its fleet, adding to the 800 aircraft already delivered by Textron over the last eight years.
Another fuel-focused deal, DHL Express’ seven-year contract with SAF producer World Energy is believed to be the largest and longest of its type in the world.
The agreement will see the supply of 668 million litres of SAF through the use of SAF certificates as part of the logistics company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint across scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
In one of the biggest airport deals in 2023, Ferrovial sold its significant stake in one of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow, in two deals worth over $3bn to Saudia Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and French private equity group Ardian.
PIF’s involvement in the deal was particularly notable due to the Kingdom’s wide-ranging efforts to expand its presence in the aviation industry, including in the infrastructure of other countries such as the UK.
While JetBlue’s ongoing issues over its acquisition of Spirit Airlines was the focus of much attention throughout the year, Alaska Airlines announcement in the final month of 2023 that it would look to acquire Hawaiian Airlines could be another game changer for the US aviation industry.
While it is expected to face its own scrutiny from the country’s Department of Justice, the $1.9bn deal could see Alaska take significant control of the aviation market in Hawai’i, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.