Le Bourget: Airbus piled up orders for its revamped A320neo passenger jet at the Paris Air Show Tuesday, putting more pressure on Boeing and limiting scope for new rivals as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was expected to highlight his country's aerospace industry.
European planemaker Airbus notched up $14.4 billion (Dh52.88 billion) of orders on the first day, outselling US rival Boeing's $9.3 billion. Early yesterday, Airbus' sales chief said it had 544 commitments for its new A320 aircraft, including a memorandum of understanding with leasing company CIT for 50.
Airbus had also won almost 100 orders and commitments for its A320neo family of planes worth about $8.3 billion.
Boeing and Airbus are locked in a strategy battle over a huge market for single-aisle aircraft, with Airbus marketing a revamped version of its A320 and Boeing holding back on deciding whether to upgrade or redesign its 737.
"I think it is going to be a different conversation at the end of the week, depending on what Airbus achieves this week in terms of orders for the neo," Henri Courpron, chief executive of International Finance Lease Corporation, the world's largest aircraft leasing company, told Reuters.
"So if we asssume, based on rumours and reports, that the neo is going to be a great success this week, then it prompts Boeing to do something," he said.
Boeing, however, outsold Airbus in the market for more expensive long-haul planes, including for a new version of its most recognisable jetliner, the 747. Airbus believes it has the upper hand with the A320neo, whose more efficient engines save airlines 15 per cent in fuel costs, according to the company. Analysts expect narrow-body planes, the backbone of the fast-growing budget airline market, to be a key battleground for orders between Airbus and Boeing at the biennial air show.
Boeing conceded it might lose some custom while it ponders the future of its 737. The firm said on Sunday it would decide by year-end on its new strategy. China and Russia have a major presence at the air show as they look to muscle in on the two traditional passenger aircraft manufacturers, although their offerings still seem distant.
Moscow is currently pushing for Russian companies to up their spending in research and development as the government seeks to modernise and diversify the economy away from oil and gas and resources.
United Aircraft Corp will push its Sukhoi 100 superjet, and also has high hopes for its mid-sized airliner, the MC-21/MS-21.
Putin, who was to visit the air show after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon, is expected to promote the Russian civilian and military aerospace sector.