July 14, 2024

Orders Show Confident Tone at Paris Air Show

A large chunk of those deals secured on the first day of the Paris Air Show was for Airbus’s latest version of the popular A320 single-aisle jet, which is being revamped with more fuel-efficient engines. The company said it had secured commitments for 126 A320neos, which, when finalized, would be worth as much as $11.5 billion at list prices. Neo stands for New Engine Option.

Meanwhile, Boeing said it had received orders for up to 17 of the new stretched passenger version of its 747 jet, the 747-8i, placed by two unidentified customers and valued at as much as $5.4 billion.

“This has actually exceeded my expectations for the first day,” said Saj Ahmad, an analyst at FBE Aerospace in London. “One does wonder what they are going to have left to announce for the rest of the week.”

Airbus had been widely expected to announce a flurry of orders for the A320neo, which the plane maker says will be 15 percent more fuel-efficient than its current offering of single-aisle planes. The wave of announcements is likely to put pressure on Boeing to make a decision on whether to follow suit with an enhanced version of its competing 737 jet, or to develop an entirely new narrow-bodied jet for delivery at the beginning of the next decade.

Two of the biggest A320neo buyers were leasing companies. GE Capital Aviation Services, the aircraft-leasing arm of General Electric, made a firm order for 60 A320neos, while Air Lease Corp., the Los Angeles-based company run by Steven Udvar-Hazy, formerly of A.I.G.’s International Lease Finance Corp., committed to buy 50 of the planes.

“This shows the confidence that the lessors have that they can actually place these airplanes,” Mr. Ahmad said.

The Scandinavian carrier SAS, which flies a mixed fleet of A320s and Boeing 737s, placed an order for 30 A320neos, worth around $2.7 billion, which it said would mainly be used to replace older A320s and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets in its fleet. It also signed options for 11 more of the planes.

Airbus has yet to secure an order for the A320neo from an exclusive 737 operator. But many industry executives said Monday that this was probably only a matter of time, as Boeing has indicated it is not likely to reach a decision on its future single-aisle strategy until the end of this year.

“If we see any defectors, it will definitely send shock waves through Seattle,” said Mr. Udvar-Hazy of Air Lease Corp., referring to where Boeing has its main manufacturing facilities. He said he hoped the U.S. plane maker would opt for an all-new 737.

Meanwhile, Bombardier of Canada managed to build more customer momentum for its 100- to 148-seat C-Series regional jet, which it expects to enter service in 2013. The company said Monday that it had received a firm, $616 million order for 10 of its forthcoming C-Series regional jets from an unidentified “major network carrier,” bringing its total order book for the 100-seat CS100 to 113 from six customers.

Gary Scott, Bombardier’s chief executive, said the unidentified airline would be the first to operate the C-Series, with first deliveries expected in 2013.

Several significant deals for wide-body jets were also announced Monday. In addition to the 17 commitments for the 747-8i, Boeing said the fast-growing Gulf carrier, Qatar Airways, had ordered six of its long-range twin-aisle jets, the 777-300ER, that it valued at $1.7 billion. That purchase had already been accounted for on Boeing’s books this year, although the customer was not publicly identified.

Mr. Udvar-Hazy also committed to buying a mix of 33 wide-body and narrow-body planes from Boeing.

The plane maker did not disclose the value of that deal, which has yet to be finalized, but it would be worth roughly $3.9 billion, according to Boeing’s published list prices.

Air Lease said it had firmed up six previous commitments for 737-800s announced in 2010 and placed a firm order for 14 more of the single-aisle planes. It also ordered five new 737-300ER wide-body planes and four 787-9 Dreamliners.

Airbus also received an order from Saudi Arabian Airlines for four A330-300 wide-body aircraft, taking that carrier’s total order for the plane to 12.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 20, 2011

Because of incorrect information from Airbus, an earlier version of this article misstated the value of the commitments Airbus said it had secured for 126 A320neos. At list price, the sales would be worth $11.5 billion, not $6 billion.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/business/global/21airshow.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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