LONDON — Day 4 at the Farnborough International Airshow is in the books, with Norwegian Air Shuttle breaking an otherwise monotonous day with an order for 30 A321LRs that signals its ambitions for trans-Atlantic low cost travel.
The end of business on Thursday usually marks the effective close of the Farnborough and/or Paris Airshow, and as a result, we thought we’d take the opportunity to wrap this year’s show.
Overall Theme — A Quiet Show for orders
Based on our tally, not even adjusting for orders previously placed and merely revealed at Farnborough, a total of just 514 orders and commitments (this includes MoUs/LOIs but excludes options and will be shortened to “orders” from here on out ) were announced at the show, which is exceedingly slow business relative to some of the bonanzas in the preceding 3-4 years.
It would appear that the mix of low fuel prices and a long run trend towards carriers in developing markets announcing aircraft orders at their local market airshows have taken a major bite out of the business that is transacted at aviation’s largest annual event.
Notably missing were aircraft lessors, who had placed hundreds of orders for narrow bodies and wide bodies at Farnborough 2014 and Paris 2015. Wide body orders were particularly sparse, only 43 combined between Boeing and Airbus. So it was a slow airshow in terms of orders, particularly impactful ones. The flip side is that this highlighted aircraft market demand and program briefings more.
For example, Boeing forecast demand for 39,260 new aircraft between 2016-2035 while Airbus forecast 33,070. The largest source of the difference? Airbus expects fewer narrow body sales overall with more sales in the middle of market (MoM) space that it owns with its A321neo.
Embraer for its part projected market demand for 6,400 new jets in the 70-130 seat segment (nearly double Boeing’s projections for the same space). Turboprop manufacturer ATR had no orders to announce, but projected demand for a laughable 2,800 regional turboprops by 2035 (including 1,800 new frames and 1,000 replacement ones).
On the program side, neither Airbus nor Boeing launched new planes, but ATW reported that Sukhoi has begun development on a stretched version of its base Superjet SSJ100 that would seat about 120 passengers, about halfway between the existing plane and Bombardier’s CS300 and similar to Embraer’s E195-E2.
The new SSJ100 variant would require an increase in weight of about 6 metric tons and a new wing with higher aspect ratio. No changes would be required to the PowerJet SaM146 engine that powers the SSJ100, as a “throttle push” that increases thrust by 2.5% would suffice.
The Turkish Regional Jet (TRJ328), a new 30-seat regional jet based on the Dornier 328 platform, also had its coming out party at Farnborough, announcing a series of suppliers for various components and a new order for 10 aircraft from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO).
For the TRP328, the turboprop variant of the family, TRJet (the Ankara-based manufacturer of both types) signed an agreement with Pratt & Whitney to use a to be developed PW127 turboprop engine on the new turboprop, and announced 5 orders from Sentinel Aerospace Group of Singapore.
The TRJ328 will also use a P&W power plant, namely the PW306B. Both variants will seat 32 passengers, and neither has won an order from an actual airline yet (both Sentinel and ITO will use the aircraft for VIP flights and other special missions such as rescues).
Perhaps in a sign of the rough market for turboprops, the TRP328 is as of close of business on Tuesday, the best selling turboprop at Farnborough.
In a product briefing, Boeing confirmed that it is in discussions with customers around an aircraft to address the MoM space, with no decision made over a 737 MAX 10, clean sheet narrow body, or clean sheet wide body. Boeing’s Mike Delaney did note that Boeing has ruled out a shrink of the 787-8 to address the MOM space.
Embraer, Bombardier, and ATR all had quiet airshows announcing 16, 3, and 0 orders between them. Embraer did throw down the gauntlet with CEO John Slattery alleging that Bombardier received illegal state aid from the Quebec government that violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
Airbus wins yet again
As is now an annual tradition, Airbus “won” the airshow yet again with 290 orders, with most of the activity on Tuesday, which saw a whopping 201 net orders on the day. The only important order news to emerge on Monday was Virgin Atlantic finally firming its order for 12 A350-1000s even as its A380 order is likely dead in the water.
Leading the tally on Tuesday, was AirAsia, who ordered 100 Airbus A321neos, helping it retain CASK leadership amidst heightened LCC competition in Southeast Asia and navigate airport infrastructure challenges in the region.
The order takes AirAsia’s order book for A320neo family aircraft to 400 aircraft. It also operates 188 A320ceos with 42 remaining on order and 31 A330-300s for its various AirAsia X medium haul brands which also has 10 A350-900s and a whopping 66 A330-900neos on order.
Also on Tuesday, GoAir added to the Indian LCC bonanza for A320neos, doubling its order book for the type with an MoU for 72 additional airframes.
GoAir will use about a third of its A320neo planes to fly international routes thanks to a newly liberalized civil aviation policy in India. Go Air currently operates 19 A320ceos and 2 (of a planned 144) A320neos.
On Wednesday, Airbus announced a deal for 62 A320neos from Synergy Group, the parent company of Avianca’s multiple South American subsidiaries, ranging from the core company in Colombia to Avianca Brazil. The order from Avianca Brazil is an odd one, given that the primary Avianca brand had deferred most A320ceo and A320neo deliveries between 2016-2019 and that Brazil is in economic disarray.
Thus no net new orders were announced on the day, but the trend of airlines preferring A321 next generation aircraft in the middle of the market (MOM) continues to accelerate.
Boeing’s Show was Dominated by China
Boeing announced 180 orders during the airshow, but about a third of them were already firmed orders that had previously appeared as unidentified on Boeing’s backlog, and were merely identified at Farnborough.
The headline was Volga-Dnepr Group confirming the acquisition of 20 747-8Fs (4 already delivered), announced last year in Paris. The deal helps Boeing fill some of its production gap over the next several years, though with 16 outstanding airframes spread over six years of deliveries, it doesn’t completely fill it.
Most of the Boeing news was from China, including a commitment (MoU or LOI) for 30 737s from an unidentified Chinese carrier, a mix of NG and MAX planes.
Elsewhere in what will soon be the world’s single largest air travel market, Kunming Airlines announced an MoU for 10 of the newly re-designed and higher capacity 737 MAX 7, becoming the type’s first customer outside of North America.
On Day 1, XiamenAir became the second 737 MAX 200 customer in Asia — we believe that the 737 MAX 200 will be used to launch a new LCC arm for the China Southern subsidiary.
Donghai Airlines flexed its future long haul muscles in Shenzhen, China’s answer to Silicon Valley, by purchasing 5 Boeing 787-9s. Also included in the deal; 25 737 MAX 8s following on order for 10 of the type back in 2013. And on the third day, Donghai was joined by Kunming-based Ruili Airlines who ordered 6 787-9s.
Don’t miss the 4th episode of the Airways Podcast, in which Senior Business Analyst Vinay Bhaskara, Columnist Rohan Anand, and Airways Editor In Chief Enrique Perella reported from the Farnborough Airshow, and offer a recap of the major themes from the event.