Speaking ahead of the opening of the Paris Air Show on Monday, Scott Carson admitted he was “a little more pessimistic” than the plane maker’s in-house economists, but said he sees no sign of a recovery in the industry until the second half of 2010. The market is now at the bottom, he said.
Mr Carson also dashed hopes that Boeing’s much-delayed 787 “Dreamliner” would make its test flight this week to coincide with the air show, which celebrates its centenary this year.The 787 is still on course to make a test flight in June, as Boeing had forecast, but it will be later in the month.
Tom Enders, chief executive of European rival Airbus, said this weekend it could withstand as many as 1,000 cancellations because it has an order book of 3,500 planes, which will ensure it can keep going at “maximum production” for the next five years.
By the end of May, Airbus had sold 32 planes this year and had 21 cancellations. Boeing’s orders for the year are flat, with 65 sales and the same number of cancellations. Airbus expects to win up to 300 orders this year, while Boeing declined to make a forecast because of the volatile market, but expects to deliver up to 485 planes from its backlog, which is also for around 3,500 planes.
The recovery in the oil price may also spur airlines to make orders, said Mr Carson. The direction of fuel prices is equally as important to future sales as the speed of economic recovery, he said, citing orders from airlines last year, when the oil price reached a record of $147 a barrel and it became uneconomical to use older and less fuel-efficient planes.
The aerospace industry is gathering in Paris amid the toughest conditions its airline customers have ever faced, according to British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh.
The world’s airlines will lose $9bn in 2009, industry body Iata warned earlier this month, as cargo flights and business-class travel are severely curtailed by the recession. Boeing has cut its forecast for plane orders for the next 20 years and even the resilient defence sector is pausing for breath, as governments make budget cuts after a decade of rapid growth boosted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Manufacturers have had to scale down their presence at the show and the focus will be on keeping their existing orders rather than announcing new sales.
Boeing has reduced the number of staff it has at the show by around 25pc to 160 people. British engine-maker Rolls Royce and defence giant BAE will not be taking stands as in previous years, although they will keep their chalets for hosting clients.