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Paris Air Show

Airbus gets a boost from budget, Asian airlines

Jun 16, 2009

LE BOURGET, France β€” Asian and low-cost airlines defied worries about the global recession and placed dozens of orders with Airbus at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday, in sharp contrast to rival Boeing, which reported no new sales.

Planemakers at the world's biggest air show are trying to coax airlines and governments to open their pocketbooks and buy more aircraft despite plunging passenger loads and revenues.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders declared that Tuesday's sunny skies β€” after pelting rain on Monday's opening day β€” boded well for business.

Airbus announced two firm orders from Vietnam Airlines and the Philippines low-cost airline Cebu Pacific worth $1.8 billion on Tuesday. Vietnam Airlines ordered 16 Airbus A321 single-aisle jets worth $1.4 billion and pledged to buy two more A350-XWB planes.

The airline made a deposit and signed a memorandum of understanding for the two A350 planes, which falls short of a firm sale and means Airbus does not count the order in its overall tally.

Cebu Pacific made a firm order for five single-aisle A320s worth a total of $385 million at list prices. Airlines often negotiate substantial discounts to catalog prices, particularly in tough economic times.

Kuala Lumpur low-cost airline Air Asia ordered 10 A350-900 jets and placed options for five more. The list price for the 10 jets would be $2.4 billion.

Boeing's vice president for international corporate communications, Charlie Miller, shrugged off the Airbus announcements.

"Airbus and Boeing approach air shows in a different way. Boeing doesn't save up orders to announce at air shows. That has been our policy for years. Our policy is to announce orders as soon as they are firm. And the tally is updated weekly," he said.

Boeing has sought to concentrate on its military programs. The head of its air refueling tanker programs expressed confidence in the U.S. jet manufacturer's chances to win the rematch with Airbus' parent EADS for a multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Air Force.

Boeing Vice President Dave Bowman said his team is "pumped and ready to rock" when the Air Force issues its request for offers in the coming weeks.

Both rivals sought to minimize expectations this year amid worries about credit markets, the global economy and the unexplained crash of Air France Flight 447.

"This is not the time to expect huge orders, but there are still orders coming in because the situation is different from region to region" and company to company, Airbus' Enders told a news conference. "What counts for our numbers, our financial health, is not orders but turning our backlog into delivery."

He also sought to reassure the company's thousands of workers amid cutbacks across the aviation industry.

"We are very much interested in keeping stable the most important asset we have in our company ... our skilled workforce," he said.

Russia's Sukhoi won attention and domestic orders in a bid to revive the country's civilian aircraft industry. Sukhoi notched up 28 more orders for its new Superjet 100 regional airliner, a day after signing a letter of intent with Hungarian national carrier Malev for 30 aircraft.

Moscow-based Avia leasing company placed a firm order on Tuesday for 24 of the planes, while Spain's Gadair European Airlines ordered two jets with an option for two more. The value of the deals were not released.

SuperJet International is a joint venture between Italy's Alenia Aeronautica and Russian jet maker Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.

French regional aircraft maker ATR and the Spanish carrier Air Nostrum signed a contract for the purchase of 10 ATR 72-600s, plus options for 10 additional aircraft. The deal, announced on the occasion of the Paris Air Show, is worth some $425 million, including options.

Toulouse-based ATR says it's the world leader in the 50- to 74-seat turboprop market.

Gulf airline Etihad Airways announced orders Tuesday for 239 engines for its Airbus and Boeing planes worth up to $7 billion, from GE, Engine Alliance, IAE and Rolls-Royce.

So far this year, Boeing β€” which is cutting 10,000 jobs β€” has taken orders for 73 planes, but with cancellations of 66, the net order intake is only 7 jets.

The industry gathering has been shaken by Air France Flight 447's still-unexplained May 31 crash into the Atlantic Ocean while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Investigators have only two more weeks to find the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the Airbus A330 jet before the signals emitted by small beacons on the black boxes start to fade. Without them, the cause of the crash that killed all 228 on board may never be fully known.

The Paris Air Show is marking its 100th anniversary. It opened to industry on Monday, and then to the public Friday to Sunday.

Airbus gets a boost from budget, Asian airlines
Rain falls at the 48th Paris Air Show at the Bourget airport / Image via AP/Jacques Brinon

Source: AP

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