More orders expected at Paris airshow, all eyes on AirAsia

21st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The world's biggest international air show goes into its second day Tuesday after chalking up $20 billion in sales with hopes high of more to come as the airline industry bets on sustained growth ahead.

All eyes will be on a possible order from Malaysia's low-cost pioneer AirAsia worth $18 billion for 200 A320neos, the upgraded and more fuel-efficient workhorse of the Airbus stable.

A senior AirAsia official told AFP on Monday that "we are looking at 200 jets" and the deal could be sealed in the next few days in Paris, giving Airbus all the bragging points it could wish for over arch rival Boeing.

Airbus and US aerospace giant Boeing dominated proceedings on Monday but smaller companies such as Canada's Bombardier and Embraer of Brazil staked their claim too with important orders for their regional jets.

Alongside the majors, more than 2,000 smaller aerospace companies are touting their wares at the 49th edition of the Paris International Airshow at Le Bourget in the northern suburbs.

Airbus came into the show confident on the back of Indian and Philippine orders for the A320neo worth more than $10 billion and added another 142 planes, mostly of the same model, tagged at $15.1 billion (10.5 billion euros) on Monday.

Boeing, which traditionally spreads its order announcements out, also made a good start, selling 22 planes for $3.44 billion while another unnamed client made a commitment to buy 15 of its upgraded 747-8 jumbo jets.

The biggest customers were the giant US aircraft leasing firms ALC and Gecas, gearing up for sustained growth which Boeing estimates will come in at an average 4.5 percent annually for years to come as the industry dusts itself off from the global financial crisis.

Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing's commercial aircraft operations, said Monday the market was coming back strongly but noted that smaller firms from emerging countries such as China and Brazil were beginning to make an impact.

"Traffic is coming back in very strong fashion," Albaugh said, adding that the days of the Airbus-Boeing "duopoly" were over.

Boeing estimates that 33,500 planes worth $4.0 trillion (2.8 trillion euros) will be needed over the next 20 years, the vast majority of them single-aisle medium-haul mainstays such as its 737, the world's biggest selling plane, and the Airbus A320 series.

Le Bourget may have some of the most up to date technology on show but the A380 superjumbo showed how the best laid plans can go astray when it clipped a a building on its arrival on Sunday, putting it out of action.

The day was saved for Airbus when a Korean Airlines A380 took to the skies to awe the crowd who will be looking to see it and other planes go roaring through their gravity defying paces on Tuesday.

© 2011 AFP

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