Boeing, Airbus seek to outperform each other
Aviation giants look to beef up their order books at Paris Air Show
24 June, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) opened the show in the presence of Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier (R).
The biannual Paris Air Show, the biggest of its kind, opened last Monday at Le Bourget with all eyes at aviation giants Airbus and Boeing, which were set to use the show once again to beef up their order books, news wires reported. However, Lockheed Martin was on the way to steal the show as it was in the final stages of negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter jets to a group of 11 nations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Boeing was first to 'attack' last Monday by unveiling a new version of its best selling 737 aircraft - 737 MAX 10, injecting life into a faltering civil aviation market. The US planemaker said it had more than 240 orders and commitments from at least 10 customers for the new 737, which can carry up to 230 people in a single-class configuration. “Many airports are running out of capacity and for those airports this is a perfect aircraft,” Ajay Singh, the chairman of low-cost Indian airline SpiceJet said cited by Reuters, as his company signed a provisional deal to buy 40 MAX 10s.
However, Airbus immediately hit back with an order for 100 of its popular A320neo planes from leasing company GECAS, as well as a deal for 12 A321neos with Air Lease Corporation. Airbus sales chief John Leahy brushed off the latest Boeing challenge, saying that much of the interest in the MAX 10 was from existing Boeing customers switching orders from other models. “We think the 737 MAX 10 is a competitor to the MAX 9 and that's why a lot of people are converting,” he said.
In fact 20 of SpiceJet's provisional order for 40 MAX 10s were conversions from an existing order for other 737 models. GECAS also converted an existing 737 order for 20 planes to the new model and Europe's largest tour operator TUI Group did likewise for 18 aircraft. Boeing, however, did announce provisional new orders for 90 MAX 10s including 50 from Indonesia's Lion Air. It also won a boost from leasing giant AerCap for its 787 Dreamliner long-range jet, which falls into a category for which demand has been fragile over the past year.
Industry sources said that Airbus was to announce an order for 10 of its A350-900 wide-body jets from Ethiopian Airways, while it also looked set to clinch a $5-billion deal with low-cost carrier Viva Air Peru. Providing reassurance for planemakers, Qatar Airways said it was sticking with plans to increase its fleet and routes despite a diplomatic rift with several Arab nations.
The air show was opened by French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived at Le Bourget aboard an Airbus A400M military transporter. His arrival was followed by a flypast by the world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380. The ceremony showed high-level support to two ambitious European aerospace projects tarnished by difficulties: the A400M because of chronic cost overruns and delays and the A380 because of weak sales that threaten its future. Meanwhile Airbus announced it was working on an A380 upgrade, dubbed A380plus, with fuel-saving wingtips, while CEO Fabrice Bregier said that the company was in talks with several potential customers for the upgraded plane.