Paris Air Show Opens With $20 Billion in Deals

Paris Air Show Opens With $20 Billion in Deals

Boeing executive: 'Traffic is coming back in a very strong fashion.'

The world's top aerospace firms announced a $20 billion slew of orders on Monday as the industry hawked its latest jets on the first day of the Paris International Air Show.

Under heavy grey skies, Airbus and Boeing gathered with more than 2,000 smaller aerospace suppliers to woo airlines at the first Le Bourget show since global economies began to recover from the financial crisis.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus, owned by European high-tech giant EADS, was on home turf and flying high on the back of Asian orders for its new A320neo worth more than $10 billion.

The first day of the 2011 Paris International Air Show was marked by rainy skies and big deals. (Photo by H. Gouss, courtesy Airbus SAS)
And the first day brought more good news for the company, with firm orders for 142 planes, most of them for the small but cutting-edge A320neo, for an estimated total of $15.1 billion dollars (10.5 billion euros).

But Boeing also had a good opening, selling 22 planes for $3.4 billion.

The biggest customers were the giant U.S. jet-leasing firms ALC and Gecas, renewing their fleets; the Scandinavian SAS; and fast-growing Gulf carriers Qatar and Saudi Airlines.

Point for Boeing

Boeing scored a point when Qatar expressed its disappointment during the signing ceremony over Airbus' two-year delay in its A350 long-haul carrier that the Gulf company has ordered in large numbers.

Airbus was put on the back foot when one of its flagship A380 superjumbos clipped a structure by the taxiway on arrival Sunday, meaning it could not make the demonstration flights that provide the "wow factor" at the show.

Honor was partly restored when a Korean Airlines A380 stepped up to perform a fly-past, its elegant sky-blue fuselage curving gracefully through the clouds over the historic airfield as thousands looked on in awe.

Boeing brought along its 747-8 Intercontinental, allowing the longer, modernized version of its trademark jumbo jet to make its international debut in great style on its rival's doorstep.

Embraer Makes a Splash

Meanwhile, the world's third-largest planemaker, Embraer of Brazil, made a splash with orders worth $1.7 billion (1.19 billion euros) from airlines in Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Kenya for 39 of its 70- to 120-seat regional jets.

"It's a truly remarkable achievement, given that we've reached 1,000 orders only seven years after our first delivery," the company said.

Separately, ATR, a joint venture of EADS and Italy's Alenia, which produces regional jets, said U.S. leasing giant GE Capital Aviation Services would buy 15 of its ATR 72-600 series and take an option on 15 more for $680 million.

ATR hopes that by the end of the week its new orders for 2011 will total $2 billion and confirm that it leads the regional-jet market alongside Canadian rival Bombardier.

Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing's commercial aircraft operations, said the market is coming back strongly while noting that smaller firms from emerging countries such as China and Brazil are beginning to make an impact.

"Traffic is coming back in very strong fashion," Albaugh told a briefing, adding that the days of the Airbus-Boeing "duopoly" was over.

The stakes are high. Last week, Boeing said 33,500 planes worth $4 trillion (2.8 trillion euros) will be needed over the next 20 years worldwide.

Deals of the Day

Here is a summary of the major orders announced Monday:

Airbus

  • 60 A320neo aircraft, worth some $5.5 billion dollars at list price.
  • 36 A320neos, plus 14 options for Aircraft Leasing Corp., which also ordered one A321 and 11 long-haul A330s in a deal that could be worth $6 billion.
  • 30 A320neos for Scandinavia's SAS Airlines, worth up to $2.8 billion.
  • Four A330-300s for Saudi Arabian Airlines, worth $800 million.
Boeing
  • 14 B737-800s, worth $1.1 billion for Aircraft Leasing Corp.
  • Two B747-8s, with a list price of $635 million. Another client signed a commitment to buy another 15 of the aircraft.
  • Six B777-300ER for Qatar Airways, worth $1.7 billion.
Embraer
  • 39 orders for its E-jet Series of regional aircraft, worth $1.7 billion.
Bombardier
  • 10 CS100 regional jets, worth more than $600 million.
ATR
  • 15 ATR 72-600 planes for leasing company GECAS, worth $340 million.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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