For one week at least, the gloom of the global recession seemed to lift along with the storm clouds gathered over the grounds of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. An unexpected flurry of sales activity gave the air transport market in particular a welcome boost, as contracts for firm orders, options, letters of intent and memoranda of understanding totalled close to $17 billion.
Unfortunately for Boeing, buyers didn’t spread their investments evenly, as Airbus grabbed most of the headlines by announcing $12.9 billion worth of “commitments” for 127 airplanes, 58 of which involved firm orders worth $6.4 billion. In stark contrast to its European rival, Boeing left Paris with a decidedly modest order total of two 737-800s from Mitsubishi Corporation subsidiary MC Aviation Partners, giving the Chicago-based company a net order total for the year of nine airplanes. Still, given the state of the world’s airline business, the fact that Airbus and the various regional aircraft manufacturers could stage a sales rally of the magnitude seen in Paris surprised even the most optimistic observers.
For its part, the slumping regional airliner business contributed firm orders for no fewer than 75 airplanes. Contracts included a conversion of options on 24 Sukhoi Superjet 100s to a firm order from Russia’s Avialeasing, a day after Hungary’s Malev signed an LOI covering 30 airplanes. ATR added firm orders for 20 turboprops, including 18 of its new -600 Series from two airlines, Bombardier inked firm contracts covering 15 CRJ1000s and eight Q400 turboprops and Embraer, conspicuous mainly for its failure to exhibit any airplanes, sold seven E190s and a single E175.