PARIS—Air Lease Corporation (ALC) placed an order for 50 Airbus A220-300s on the opening day of the Paris Air Show, providing the program with a welcome boost in confidence by a key player.

ALC will take delivery of the aircraft between 2021 and 2026, according to the terms of the preliminary order. “[The A220] is a wonderful replacement of A319s, Fokker 100s and Boeing 737s,” ALC executive chairman Steve Udvar-Hazy said. “We spent several years analyzing the program. ALC will work hand-in-hand with Airbus to widen the customer base of the A220.”

Airbus (and previously Bombardier) have collected a total of 536 firm orders for the two versions of the A220. 80 of the orders come from five lessors. Macquarie Financial Holdings has the biggest portfolio with 40 A220-300s but will now be eclipsed by ALC.

All of ALC’s A220s will be built on the Mirabel final assembly line and not in Mobile, Alabama where Airbus will open a second line for the U.S. market. While the program has gained traction over the past year—mainly through orders by Delta Air Lines and JetBlue—filling the planned production at Mirabel has remained a concern.

ALC CEO John Plueger believes the A220-300 will not only be used in traditional short- and medium-haul markets but will increasingly be deployed on transatlantic routes and the U.S. to Latin America market. Airbus says the aircraft has a range of 3,350 nm in a typical two-class configuration. Plueger noticed “a lot of demand over the last six months” for the aircraft.

He was more cautious with regards to a potential stretch of the A220, provisionally dubbed -500. “The -500 is a little bit tougher of a business case” as it is bordering on the A320neo segment. Therefore, ALC is focusing on the -300 for now. Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer says that Airbus has “no plan to stretch the A220, but the aircraft is capable of it.”