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5 Big Deals at the Paris Air Show

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Every two years, aerospace contractors and aficionados gather at Le Bourget outside Paris, carrying on a tradition that began in 1909.

As the latest in above-the-ground maneuvers take place, investors in any sector affected by aircraft—from manufacturing to tourism, military contracting to space applications—follow the happenings at the Paris Air Show, both to see who’s ordering and who’s not, and also to be on the lookout for coming trends in air and space travel.

While there were no major product announcements made at this year’s show, the 51st of its kind, and not all the news coming off the airfield was good, at least it was unmarred by disaster—unlike previous years 1989, when a Mig-29 crashed; 1977, when a Fairchild Republic A-10 crashed; and 1973, when a Tupolev Tu-144 and its crew met their demise.

If you missed it, here are the five biggest headlines on deals made at the Paris Air Show.


1. Airbus emerged the big winner.

Airbus came out on top, beating its rival Boeing in total deals made, helped along by, of all sources, eastern Europe’s Wizz Air and heavy demand from Asia.

Airbus garnered $57 billion in orders and commitments, beating out Boeing’s total of $50.2 billion. The firm announced after the show that Saudi Arabian Airlines would become the first operator of the A330 Regional wide body, which the airline will lease from Middle East lessor IAFC.

Altogether, Airbus got $15.6 billion in orders for wide body orders and commitments, including the A330 Regional but also 31 A350-900s and four A330-300s. But even more sales came for single-aisle planes, where the total reached $41.4 billion.

Some of the Asian demand came from Garuda Indonesia, which signed a letter of intent to buy 30 A350 XWB jets, worth up to $9 billion. But Garuda spread the wealth, also placing an order with Boeing for up to 30 787-9 Dreamliners and 30 737 MAX 8 jets in a deal that could total around $10.9 billion.


2. Wizz Air goes for major expansion within Europe.

The Hungarian company, whose business model is even more cost-conscious than Ryanair, signed on the bottom line for a massive order of 110 Airbus A321neos, also nailing down purchase rights for another 90 of the same.

Currently the carrier operates a fleet of 61 A320s, and is already scheduled to take delivery of 27 A320ceos, deliveries of which should be complete by the end of 2018. After that it will take delivery of 27 A321ceos from 2019–2024. The orders, both new and existing, will not only serve to upgrade Wizz’s existing fleet but also allow it to expand to meet growing demand.

Not all that growing demand will be met by new planes; some is expected to come from more dense seating arrangements. The firm is already studying the feasibility of cramming additional seats into the plans it has ordered, while Airbus has just gotten approval for an A320 cabin configuration that allows 189 seats rather than Wizz’s current 180-seat layout.


3. Bombardier loses out.

Montreal, Canada-based Bombardier was disappointed at the Paris Air Show this year, although it pronounced itself “absolutely satisfied” with the outcome. Its new CSeries passenger jet didn’t sell a single soul, although Fred Cromer, the company’s president, said in reports that he was pleased at the plane’s showing in demonstrations and design.

The company did have orders for 243 of the aircraft prior to the show, although it had hoped for more. Still undergoing flight testing, the plane is expected to receive certification later in the year—and the good news is that it has exceeded expectations in fuel consumption and performance, which could mean new market possibilities.

But while Bombardier sold only 6 turboprop aircraft to WestJet Airlines Ltd. of Canada, it was outdone even by Brazil’s Embraer SA, which got orders for 50 regional jets, and by ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Finmeccanica, which brought in orders for 46.


4. CFM gets $14 billion in deals.

Engine maker CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran, brought in $14 billion in orders, commitments and long-term service agreements on 835 engines.

Jean-Paul Ebanga, the company’s chief executive, said in reports that 80 percent of the new business came from leasing companies, and much of that originated in Asia.


5. Boeing business wins are spread out across the globe.

Aeroflot canceled an order for 22 Boeing 787-8 aircraft, although it’s thought that the company won’t have much trouble finding other takers for those planes.

But buyers at Le Bourget included the government of Qatar, which signed on for four more C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, as well as Qatar Airways, which ordered four Boeing 777F freighters and 10 Boeing 777X8s. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines has ordered 6 Boeing 787 airframes.

But the bigger news includes a letter of intent from Volga-Dnepr Airlines for 20 Boeing 747-8F freighters, and an order from leasing company Aercap Holdings NV for 100 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the latter of which are valued at about $10.7 billion. Altogether, Boeing received orders for 29 freighters, indicating an upsurge in the demand for air cargo.


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