June 17 - Big finance waded into a rain-soaked Paris Airshow with more than $10 billion in orders for jumbo passenger jets as planemakers dueled over strategy for large aircraft. Julian Satterthwaite reports from the show.
The plane everyone is talking about at the Paris air show isn't actually IN Paris. Airbus flew its new A350 for the first time on Friday, and the most Paris will see is a quick flypast, if that. But it sets the agenda for the show, as it's Airbus's response to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. These planes compete in a key segment of the market - large, long-range, twin-engined jets that are in high demand from airlines around the world. REPORTER PTC All eyes now on Boeing's response to the new Airbus. Specifically, will they commit to a larger version of this, the 787, which is currently beaten on capacity by the A350. There's little doubt that they will, but airlines want a firm commitment, and a timetable. Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth won't spell out the company's plans, but has dropped a big hint, calling this the year of the wide body: SOT (English) Randy Tinseth, Boeing VP of Marketing, saying: "The harder the market the last few years has been the single aisle airplanes - like the A320 NEO, like the 737 max, actually since 2010 we've seen more than 5,000 orders for those aircraft. But now as we look at the A350 flying for the first time - we're looking at bringing the 787X and the 777X to the market - I think this is the time for wide bodies." It's certainly looking like another big year for new orders. Earlier, Airbus announced an 8 billion dollar deal for 20 of its A380 super jumbos. Accenture analyst Damien Lasou says there should be plenty more deals to come: SOT (English) Damien Lasou, Accenture, Head of Global Aerospace Practice, saying: "When I am seeing that already mid year they have done 60-70 per cent of what they had actually said they would make. Ok, you can be a little more bullish than what you have seen in the past. Very clearly we are again heading for another record year, above 1,000 aircraft, up to 2,000 aircraft - that would be a very good deal." With orders for smaller jets also rolling in, Airbus and Boeing are ramping up production to meet demand. That leaves some analysts wondering if the manufacturers are dangerously exposed if there's a sudden downturn in the market. Airbus COO John Leahy says that's not worry: SOT (English) John Leahy, Airbus COO, saying: "If you look at our production since the year 2000, it's been flat. We went through that downturn, where our colleagues went down over 60 percent of production we stayed flat - during the financial crisis of 2008 we stayed flat. We'll do that in the next financial crisis, the next depression, the next SARS - whatever it's going to be." For now, while there may be thunderclouds over Paris, this is one industry that seems determined to look on the bright side.