July 22, 2024

Paris Air Show Braces for a Flurry of New Aircraft Orders

PARIS — Their corporate chalets may be a touch less spacious and their delegations less numerous, but the titans of the global aerospace industry are returning to Paris this year for what most aviation executives expect will be an affirmation of a steady recovery that is likely to translate into a flurry of orders for newer and more fuel-efficient jets.

The organizers of the Paris Air Show, which opens Monday at Le Bourget airport, north of the capital, said that most major exhibitors had reduced their budgets for the weeklong trade show by 10 percent to 30 percent from the levels of 2009, the last time the industry gathered here.

Still, the number of exhibitors was expected to reach a record, 2,100 — many of them subcontractors and suppliers to companies like Boeing and Airbus — from 80 different countries.

Louis Gallois, the chief executive of European Aeronautic Defense Space, the parent company of Airbus, said he expected a lively week.

“The market is dynamic and definitely on the right track,” Mr. Gallois said during a recent interview. “Traffic is good and airlines are in a better financial situation.”

The global airline industry made a net profit of $18 billion in 2010, bouncing back from combined losses of nearly $26 billion in 2008 and 2009. The airlines are expected to be profitable again this year, to the tune of about $4 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Despite the recent jump in oil prices and turmoil in Japan, North Africa and the Middle East, air passenger and cargo demand are expected to increase 4.4 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, this year, largely in line with long-term trends.

“The downturn in commercial orders was short-lived,” said Philip Toy, a commercial aerospace analyst at AlixPartners in Southfield, Michigan. He, too, forecast the signing of a number of new contracts in coming days, particularly for the newest version of Airbus’s popular A320 single-aisle jet, which will be fitted with more fuel-efficient engines and a more aerodynamic wing.

The A320neo — the letters stand for New Engine Option — will be available for delivery beginning in 2016, and Airbus has been promising fuel savings of as much as 15 percent over current engines. It is expected also to run more quietly, with lower operating costs, and to be able to fly farther or carry heavier payloads while emitting less greenhouse gas.

Airbus has booked more than 200 firm orders for the re-engined plane since it was presented late last year, with commitments from customers to buy as many as 200 more.

Analysts said the momentum building behind the neo was putting increasing pressure on Boeing, the U.S. plane maker, to follow suit with a revamped version of its 737, rather than produce a fully redesigned single-aisle jet. After more than 18 months of consideration, Boeing has yet to decide which strategy to pursue; it has indicated that an announcement is unlikely at Le Bourget.

“They need to make an announcement very soon, before the end of this calendar year,” or risk losing customers to Airbus, Mr. Toy said. “Airbus is no doubt anxious to increase the noise about Boeing’s indecision.”

Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing at Boeing, said that the manufacturer continued to lean toward an all-new 737 replacement jet that would enter the market in 2019 or 2020 — an approach that he said more customers preferred. But Boeing was not ruling out a new engine, which he said would be 11 percent more fuel-efficient than those on existing models.

“We are going to take our time,” Mr. Tinseth said. “When the decision is ready to be made, we will make it.”

Meanwhile, Airbus also plans to give an update on the development of its latest plane, the A350-XWB, which is slated for delivery in late 2013. The assembly of the first test aircraft is expected to begin at the end of this year, with flight tests scheduled for 2012.

Analysts said Boeing probably would seek to focus attention during the show on its newest twin-aisle jets: the 787 Dreamliner, its competitor to the A350, and the 747-8, a stretched version of the 747. Both the Dreamliner and the 747-8 will be on display at Le Bourget this year for the first time.

“Boeing will quietly take their blows on the narrow-body front while playing up” its wide-body offerings, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, an aerospace and defense consulting group in Fairfax, Virginia.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d196e9537fc1bf715bc74559a27da623

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