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Airbus wants to expand the A220 to a bigger model: Paris update

Airbus wants to expand the A220 to a bigger model: Paris update
A Boeing 737-10 Max airliner fitted with a Leap-1B engine at the Paris Air Show. Photographer: Benjamin Girette/Bloomberg

Aviation executives gathered for a second day at the Paris Air Show, the first time the event takes place outside the French capital in four years. The opening day saw local champion Airbus SE pull in a record order from Indian carrier IndiGo for 500 A320 family aircraft, and Day 2 is gearing up for another flurry of commercial announcements from the European manufacturer and its US rival, Boeing Co. 

Amid all the action, some aviation veterans are cautioning that airlines might be over-ordering, particularly as economic growth tapers off and leisure customers risk running out of funds after the first post-pandemic booking rush. On the other hand, constrained availability of new jets is forcing customers to act if they want to avoid being relegated to the end of the line. 

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the company is exploring a stretched version of its A220 aircraft and that equipping the model with a choice of engines would be the right move. “We think it makes a lot more sense to have one more child in the family,” Faury said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. 

At the same time, Faury cautioned that the company won’t rush into a decision, saying it be “the wrong time,” to move ahead now because Airbus is still ramping up production on the two smaller variants. Those types are powered exclusively by Pratt & Whitney turbines.

Air India firmed a record-setting order made in February for Airbus and Boeing aircraft, announcing options for 70 more Boeing jetliners. The Indian carrier, being revamped under new ownership, will buy as many as 290 Boeing jets after adding options for 50 737 Max single-aisle and 20 more 787 Dreamliner dual-aisle jets. 

Airbus’s share consists of 250 planes: 210 narrow-body jets, including the base A320neo model and larger A321neo, and 40 A350 widebodies. The combined Air India order originally stood at 470, a record-setter eclipsed this week by IndiGo, the biggest carrier in the Indian market, which agreed to purchase 500 Airbus jets. 

Should Air India exercise all the options, it would move ahead again, to 540 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc is making progress on a turnaround, said CEO Tufan Erginbilgic, who called the company a “burning platform” shortly after coming aboard. While it would be “an exaggeration to say everything is fixed in six months, he said he’s “delighted with the progress that’s been made.”

The shares rose as much as 2.6% after Erginbilic told reporters in Paris the widebody market is “coming back strongly” and the engine maker would consider coming back to the narrowbody market with the right opportunity. The company’s “holistic transformation program” will include areas of growth as well as efficiencies, Erginbilic said.

Closer collaboration

Saudi Arabia envisages Riyadh Air collaborating with low-cost carrier Flynas, given both are based in Riyadh, Mohammed Alkhuraisi, executive vice president for strategy at the country’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, said in an interview in Paris. 

Flynas has a network that is complementary to Riyadh Air’s planned destinations, Alkhuraisi said The country is also evaluating applications for a new low-cost carrier that will be based in Dammam, Alkhuraisi said. The carrier will be 51% locally owned and a decision will likely be announced as early as this year, he said.

Boeing deal

Boeing signed a firm order with Air Algerie for eight 737 Max-9 aircraft and two converted 737 freighters called BCF. The two companies have worked together since the 1970s, and Air Algerie will use the new planes to replace aging 737 models. It’s the first firm order announcement for Boeing at this year’s Paris Air Show. Air Algerie is also considering widebody purchases to expand in the future.

Latest on another massive order

Turkish Airlines is still studying options on a mammoth 600-plane order, and now expects to make a decision on competing Boeing and Airbus models within three to four months, CEO Bilal Eksi said in an interview at the Paris Air Show. The timeframe for a deal has slipped since mid-May, when the carrier’s chairman predicted an order would be made at an airlines conference held in Istanbul a few weeks later. Turkish is also considering a separate regional-jet order pitting Airbus against Embraer, Eksi said.  

Fighter-jet sales

Lockheed Martin is working to close F-35 sales to Greece and the Czech Republic, following recent orders by Switzerland, Germany and Canada, said Greg Ulmer, an executive vice president and head of the defense giant’s aeronautics division. The stealthy US fighter jet has cemented its role as a weapon of choice for NATO members since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. 

The F-35 surprised some with its role as a “sensing vacuum,” capable of sizing up and sharing information on threats in the war theater, Ulmer said.

Twin-aisle order

Airbus reached a deal to sell nine A350-1000 aircraft to Philippine Airlines, which plans to operate the twin-aisle jetliners on services from Manila to cities in North America. The airline will fit the aircraft with 380 seats in a three-class configuration, Stanley Ng, the carrier’s president and chief operating officer, said at a briefing in Paris.

Engine output

GE and its joint venture partner Safran have increased output of their CFM Leap engines by 30% in the first half compared with the same period in 2022, said supply chain executive Mike Kauffman. The company created a 200-person procurement team last year and improved tools to track down bottlenecks among suppliers, he said. The production ramp-up is now focused on just 80 of the 5,000 discrete parts needed for the two Leap models used on Airbus and Boeing narrow-bodies, he said. DM


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