Paris air show takes off with biggest ever plane order
PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - Airbus AIR.PA announced a record 500-plane deal with Indian airline IndiGo INGL.NS on day one of the Paris Airshow on Monday, as strong demand for jets and missiles vied for attention with the industry's supply chain problems.
The multibillion-dollar deal for single-aisle planes – the largest ever by number of aircraft – confirmed a Reuters report earlier this month, and eclipsed Air India’s provisional purchase of 470 Airbus and Boeing BA.N jets earlier this year.
The world’s largest air show, which alternates with Farnborough in Britain, is at Le Bourget for the first time in four years after the 2021 edition fell victim to the pandemic.
French President Emmanuel Macron flew in to the packed aerospace bazaar by helicopter and watched a flying demonstration including Airbus’s latest jet development, the A321XLR, and air power including the French Rafale fighter.
On the civilian side, planemakers arrived with growing demand expectations as airlines rush for capacity to meet demand and help reach industry goals of net zero emissions by 2050.
But they also face a challenge to meet that demand as suppliers struggle with rising costs, parts shortages and a scarcity of skilled labour in the wake of the pandemic.
Industry executives say as many as 2,000 jet orders are up for grabs worldwide in a resurgent commercial jet market, on top of those provisionally announced already, as airlines try to fill a void left by sharp falls in activity in the COVID crisis.
Only a portion of these potential fresh deals will be ready in time for this week’s air show, which could see a mixture of new and repeat announcements, they said.
IndiGo’s deal highlights the growing importance of India, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, serving the largest population, to planemakers.
“This is just the beginning, there’s more going forward. With the growth of India (and) the growth of the Indian aviation market … this is the right time for us to place this order,” IndiGo Chief Executive Pieter Elbers told a news conference.
In another key market, Airbus said Saudi budget airline flynas had firmed up an order for 30 of its A320neo-family narrowbody aircraft, confirming a Bloomberg report.
The air show is taking place under the shadow of the conflict in Ukraine, with no Russian presence in the chalets and exhibition halls in contrast to the last event four years ago.
Some Ukrainian officials and aerospace firms were expected to be present at the show.
On the defence side, Belgium said it would apply to join as an observer the potential successor to the Rafale and multinational Eurofighter, the Franco-German-Spanish FCAS fighter project, despite differences between industrial partners over whether to expand the project.
France’s Thales TCFP.PA also announced a contract from Indonesia for 13 long-range air surveillance radars.
Looking ahead to the rest of the show, Airbus is expected to confirm that Qantas QAN.AX is exercising options for nine more A220s, as announced by the airline this year.
The planemaker is also close to a potentially large order for narrow-body jets from Mexican low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus, industry sources said on Sunday.
The number of planes being discussed was more than 100, they said, though by Monday some sources said the number in the final deal could settle closer to 60.
The Mexican carrier has long been a fierce battleground between Boeing and Airbus.
By Tim Hepher and Joanna Plucinska
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Joanna Plucinska, Allison Lampert and Valerie InsinnaEditing by Mark Potter)