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ATW Editor's Blog

Paris pours rain, orders and rival barbs

The Paris Air Show was a week of fierce storms, torrential rain and a downpour of multi-billion dollar deals as airlines and lessors continued their rush to sign up for efficient, eco-friendly aircraft and fuel-economic engines.

The Paris Air Show was a week of fierce storms, torrential rain and a downpour of multi-billion dollar deals as airlines and lessors continued their rush to sign up for efficient, eco-friendly aircraft and fuel-economic engines.

Airbus capped off the show by announcing its A350 XWB would do a flyby on the last trade day and declaring it had booked $68.7 billion worth of business for a total of 466 aircraft in the week.

The deals comprise memoranda of understanding for 25 aircraft worth $29.4 billion and firm purchase orders for 241 aircraft worth $39 billion.

As usual, Airbus COO Customers John Leahy had some fighting talk for his rival “friends in Seattle” during his show wrap-up presentation. He said that over the last five years, the A350 had been selling 2:1 versus the Boeing 787 family and that the A330 was outselling the 787 by 3:1, including the newly-launched -10 variant.

“We have been outselling Boeing in the widebody market the past five years. Please don’t say Boeing dominates the widebody market. It’s not true. You are ruining my reputation,” he chided the press.

In the narrowbody market, Leahy said Airbus was “sitting at about 60 percent of the market in [Airbus A320] neos versus [Boeing 737] MAXs. We have double the number of customers – 43 versus their 22.”

But despite Leahy’s assertion that Airbus “owned the sky” at Paris, the Toulouse and Seattle rival manufacturers ended the show almost even in terms of order values. And Leahy told reporters that Boeing has “been much more aggressive since Ray [Conner] came in” as head of the US manufacturer’s commercial aircraft division last June.

Boeing launched the -10 variant of its 787 Dreamliner with a decidedly healthy firm commitment for 102 aircraft from three major airlines and two leasing companies—Air Lease Corp. (ALC), GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), International Airlines Group/British Airways, Singapore Airlines with 30, and United Airlines.

Boeing announced that orders and commitments announced this week for Next-Generation 737s, 737 MAXs, 787s, 777s and 747-8s totaled 442 aircraft valued at more than $66 billion. Additional orders for 20 Next-Generation 737s and 20 737 MAXs from unidentified customer(s) were also posted on the manufacturer’s orders & deliveries website, bringing the number of net orders for 2013 to 692.

And the rival barbs went both ways. Boeing VP Marketing-737 MAX Joe Ozimek, told journalists that not everything Airbus said should be believed and made fun of the four-engined A340, describing it as “a plane so slow it’s certified for a bird strike from behind.”


Leahy admitted the surge of orders means that Airbus is slot constrained through to about 2020 on both the A350 and the neo. “When you have about two-thirds of the market, it’s inevitable that your competitor has more slots than you,” he said. Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier confirmed that slot availability for the A320ceo was also almost closed. “I am afraid it’s the same problem,” he said. “We are very close to full.”

Regional aircraft manufacturers also had a good show, particularly ATR and Embraer. ATR received orders for a total of 173 aircraft worth $4.1 billion, including a landmark order from Nordic Aviation Capital for 36 firm and 55 option ATR turboprops, including 31 firm ATR 72-600s.

“For ATR, this Le Bourget is a record year. I don’t remember any Le Bourget where in June we’ve been able to announce 170 orders [and options]. It’s an indication that our presence in the market continues to grow,” ATR CEO Filippo Bagnato said. With so many orders already booked this year, “after today, our team will go on holiday until January,” he joked.

Embraer, meanwhile, launched its second-generation E-Jet, the E2, and secured a firm order from US-based SkyWest Inc. for 100 E-175-E2 aircraft plus 100 purchase rights in a deal valued at $9.4 billion.

Engine manufacturers also had much to celebrate, booking orders and service contracts worth some $24 billion. GE Aviation said it gained more than $11 billion of deals for engines and services while CFM International, a GE/Safran partnership, won more than $15 billion in orders, including an $8.6 billion deal with low cost carrier AirAsia. Pratt & Whitney, meanwhile, ended the week with orders for more than 1,000 engines.

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