Airbus and Boeing face off at rain-soaked Farnborough

Agence France-Presse

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Airbus and Boeing face off at rain-soaked Farnborough


Airbus reveals a $4.4-billion firm order from Virgin Atlantic, while Boeing announces that China's Donghai Airlines plans to buy jets worth over $4.0 billion

LONDON, United Kingdom – European planemaker Airbus and US rival Boeing went head to head at the Farnborough air show, which opened Monday, July 11, facing Brexit headwinds and shut early due to heavy rain.

Airbus, which traditionally fights US rival Boeing for blockbuster order announcements at Farnborough, southwest of London, revealed a $4.4-billion (3.9-billion-euro) firm order from Virgin Atlantic for 12 wide-bodied Airbus A350-1000 jets.

The carrier has agreed to buy 8 of the aircraft for deliveries starting in 2019, and 4 new aircraft from Air Lease Corporation (ALC).

Airbus added that Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific Airlines has indicated its intention to purchase 10 single-aisle A320ceo aircraft worth $980 million.

It added that ALC had also placed a firm order for 3 long-haul A350-900s jets and one medium-haul A321.

For its part, Boeing announced that China’s Donghai Airlines intended to buy 30 jets – comprising 25 medium-haul 737 Max 8s and 5 long-haul 787-9 Dreamliners – together worth more than $4.0 billion.

Boeing also revealed that Chinese peer Xiamen Airlines had also indicated its interest in 30 of its single-aisle twin engine 737 MAX 200 planes worth $3.4 billion.

The week-long Farnborough show takes place this year amid global turbulence from Britain’s shock EU exit referendum.

However, the biennial event was shut early on Monday due to heavy downpours during the early afternoon.

Prime Minister David Cameron, attending the opening, hailed the Airbus order, citing the fact that the European planemaker’s wings are built in Britain, while engines come from Rolls-Royce.

Ahead of Farnborough, some airlines had posted profit warnings linked to expected fallout from the June 23 referendum.

Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft division, told AFP on the sidelines of the show that he did not expect Brexit to have an impact on the Canadian firm, and highlighted that the broader sector enjoys consistent and solid growth in passenger traffic.

PATROL PLANES. British Prime Minister David Cameron gives a speech during a visit to Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, Britain on July 11, 2016. He announced that the British government will buy 9 new marine patrol planes from Boeing in a decade-long deal worth 3 billion GBP or 3.52 billion euros. Photo by Hannah McKay/EPA

No long-term Brexit impact

Bombardier itself hopes to win fresh orders for its fuel-efficient C Series jetliner at Farnborough as it looks to challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in medium-range, single-aisle aircraft.

“I think, like everybody else, that this is going to evolve over time,” Cromer told AFP, when asked about the Brexit impact.

“The one statistic I would point to, in terms of aviation, is the passenger growth long term. And it is a very stable year-over-year passenger growth number in that 3.0-4.0% range, depending on the year with some volatility.

“I think our industry is always facing short-term growth issues – but long-term passenger demand is fueling the orders that you see today and that we expect to come.

“So I wouldn’t expect it (Brexit) to have an impact on us – medium term or long term.”

Cromer added that Bombardier’s long-delayed C Series jet – whose first customer Swiss flies commercially for the first time on Friday, July 15, between Zurich and Paris – is gaining “momentum” after winning recent key orders from Air Canada and Delta Airlines.

“If you think about all the milestones along the way, we are sort of getting this momentum, and then in the first half of this year we obviously announced the large orders for both Air Canada and Delta, which has in our view relaunched the program and gained the industry attention that we were looking for,” Cromer added.

“So we feel very good about where we are, going into the show with all of this momentum, and the increased interest in the aircraft is phenomenal.”

Boeing meanwhile forecast Monday that passenger traffic would grow by an average 4.8% over the next 20 years, while Airbus put the figure at 4.5%.

The industry is dogged by a record backlog for orders of planes, which – alongside weaker demand from airlines – sent orders tumbling almost a third last year. –

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