From June 17 to 23, the aviation world met in France at the 53rd Paris Air Show. As always, dozens of airlines and leasing companies have placed orders for commercial aircraft at the biennial event.
Airbus officially launched the A321XLR on the first business day of Paris Air Show. The aircraft is a long-range variant of the A321neo, with even more possible flight time than the already existing A321LR. According to numbers given by the European aircraft manufacturer, the airplane will be able to fly a distance of 8,700 kilometres (4,700 nm) without stopping.
In regional aircraft development at the airshow, ATR launched a short take-off and landing (STOL) variant of its ATR 42-600, called the 42-600S. The turboprop airplane is able to take off and land on a just 800 metre (2625 ft) long runway, compared to 1050 metres (3445 ft) for the standard version.
Airbus books orders and commitments for 383 aircraft
According to Airbus’ numbers, the aircraft manufacturer booked a total of 383 aircraft orders and commitments, along with 375 conversions of existing orders.
The newly launched A321XLR received 48 firm orders and 89 commitments, which are likely to turn into firm orders at some point. In addition, several carriers, including Qantas, JetBlue and Indigo Partners converted some existing orders for the Airbus A320neo family to the A321XLR. In total, 112 previously signed aircraft orders were upgraded to the A321XLR, bringing the order book (including commitments) for this new airplane type to 249. Orders and commitments for the XLR signed by airlines and leasing companies consist of: Middle East Airlines (4; airline launch customer), American Airlines (50), Indigo Partners (50; for WizzAir, Frontier and JetSmart), Qantas (36), Saudi Arabian Airlines (15), IAG (14; for Iberia and Aer Lingus), JetBlue (13), Flynas (10), Cebu Pacific (10) and Air Lease Corporation (27).
While most of Airbus’ order list at the Paris Air Show was filled by the new A321XLR, other types received a number of orders as well. The A220, which was taken over from Bombardier just before Farnborough Airshow one year ago, scored a total of 85 new orders and commitments, according to Airbus. JetBlue signed for an additional ten A220-300, Delta Air Lines for five A220-100 (with an increased maximum take-off weight), while an unnamed airline customer ordered ten. Other customers include the leasing companies Nordic Aviation Capital (20) and Air Lease Corporation (27).
The larger Airbus A320neo family (excluding the A321XLR mentioned above) received orders from airlines including Cebu Pacific (5 A320neo), Saudi Arabian Airlines (15 + 35 options), China Airlines (25 A321neo), Atlantic Airways (2 A320neo) and leasing company Accipiter Holdings (20 A320neo). Malaysia-based AirAsia converted 253 of its existing A320neo orders to the A321neo and Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier Flynas converted 10 A320neo to the larger type.
In terms of widebody orders, Airbus received a commitment by Virgin Atlantic for 14 A330-900neo, of which eight are going to be firm orders, while six will be leased through an agreement with Air Lease Corporation. Philippine Cebu Pacific signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) not just for the aforementioned A320neo and A321XLR, but also for a total of 16 A330-900neo, which will be configured in a single-class layout for 460 economy seats – the densest possible configuration for this aircraft type.
The Airbus A350 did not receive any orders or commitments during Paris Air Show 2019.
Boeing surprises with 737 MAX commitment
While the airshow initially did not go so well for Boeing in comparison to its European competitor, which announced one after another order for the A321XLR, the US American aircraft manufacturer surprised attending journalists and worldwide followers, when it announced a Letter of Intend (LoI) for 200 737 MAX (including the MAX 8 and MAX 10) by International Airlines Group (IAG) on the evening of the second day of Paris Air Show. IAG is the owner of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level. While it has not yet disclosed a schedule for the new aircraft, it did hint that both of its low-cost carriers (Vueling and Level) will be receiving the 737 MAX in the future. All carriers directly owned by International Airlines Group are currently only operating the competing A320 and A320neo family as single-aisle aircraft. This LoI is Boeing’s first and only commitment for the 737 MAX family since the aircraft type is grounded by worldwide aviation authorities.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner received commitments from two customers. Korean Air confirmed its intention to purchase ten 787-9, ten 787-10, as well as lease ten 787-10 in a deal with Air Lease Corporation. The same leasing company also signed an order for five 787-9 Dreamliner.
Turkmenistan Airlines announced an order for one single Boeing 777-200LR, making it the only passenger 777 ordered at Paris Air Show, and the only outstanding 777-200 order since Boeing delivered the last aircraft of this type in 2014.
Other than Airbus, which only announced orders and commitments for passenger aircraft, Boeing was able to sell a number of cargo airplanes during the airshow. China Airlines signed a Letter of Intend for six 777F and Qatar Airways Cargo placed a firm order for another five 777F.
Boeing’s smaller freighter aircraft, the 737-800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) found orders from ASL Aviation Holdings (10 firm + 10 options) and lessor GECAS (10 firm + 15 options). The 737BCF is an aircraft that has been converted by Boeing itself from a regular passenger aircraft to a freighter. All BCF orders are therefore not for new airplanes, but for a converted version of an already delivered 737.
Just as the Airbus A350, the Boeing 777X, which is still awaiting its first flight, did not receive any orders or commitments during the airshow.
Embraer sells 39 regional jets
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, which is soon re-branding to Boeing Brasil, received orders from four different airlines for its regional jets during the Paris Air Show.
On the first day, United Airlines signed a firm order for 20 E175, with options for 19 more. These aircraft feature 70 seats and will be delivered to United Express, already starting in the second quarter of 2020.
A day later, Japanese regional carrier Fuji Dream Airlines signed for two more E175s. At the same time, Spanish Binter Canarias converted two purchase options for the E195-E2 into firm commitments and now has five of the aircraft type on order.
KLM Cityhopper announced an intention to purchase 15 Embraer E195-E2, with options for 20 more. With 49 previous generation aircraft in service, KLM is currently the largest Embraer operator in Europe.
ATR receives US $1.7 billion in orders
The turboprop manufacturer says it has scored a total of 75 new orders at the airshow.
Its new ATR 42-600S (STOL), which was officially launched at Paris Air Show, received orders from three customers. Air Tahiti (not to be confused with long-haul airline Air Tahiti Nui) signed for two, lessor Elix Aviation Capital ordered ten, and an unnamed company committed to 22 (of which five appear to be the 42-600S). A large announcement was made by leasing company NAC, which ordered 35 -600 series aircraft, with purchase rights for 35 more, and options for another 35.
ATR’s closest competitor, De Havilland with its Dash 8 (which it took over from Bombardier earlier this year), could only find one commitment. The Canadian manufacturer announced an order for six Dash 8 Q400 by TAAG Angola, which was previously listed as unidentified.
Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries did not make any firm announcements during Paris Air Show 2019. However, the company indicated that an unnamed North American customer is interested in ordering 15 of its 76-seater M100.
Shortly after the airshow, Mitsubishi announced that it is taking over the CRJ aircraft programme from Bombardier.
Business slower than usual
There were fewer orders and commitments for commercial aircraft at Paris Air Show 2019, compared to the previous years. Major aircraft manufactures received less than 900 aircraft orders in total at this year’s event. In 2018, Farnborough Airshow brought up more than 1400 orders, of which Airbus got 431 and Boeing 673 – for the latter company almost double that of this year’s airshow in France. The lack of orders for the American aircraft manufacturer is partly caused by the 737 MAX crisis.
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Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.