PARIS — After a four-year pause, the Paris Air Show was back in full force this week. The largest air show in the world saw an estimated 300,000 visitors, including press, exhibitors, and aviation enthusiasts. It will also go down in the history of commercial aviation as having one of the largest-ever Airbus orders take place.
With the participation of aircraft manufacturers and aviation engineering companies from around the world, including industry giants such as Airbus and Boeing as well as smaller companies like Piaggio and Let Kunovice, the 54th Paris Air Show attracted over 1,400 attendees who engaged in showcases, promotions, and agreement signings for new opportunities in commercial aviation.
Our Airways team was present at the biennial event held every odd year at Paris-Le Bourget Airport (LBG), delivering the latest updates, analyses, insights, and images to our readers. The following are the most noteworthy announcements and events that occurred during the trade days from June 19 to 25, 2023.
A Show With Less Commercial Aviation Dominance
The 2023 Paris Air Show was characterized by two major trends: sustainability and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. More than a year after the invasion of Ukraine began, major NATO countries have increased their budgets for upgrading their national security and defense equipment, which has resulted in a greater focus on military aviation rather than commercial aviation at this year’s show.
Despite this, there were several significant events that took place during the show, including the largest single airline order for an Airbus aircraft from IndiGo (6E).
Additionally, since the outbreak of COVID-19, nearly every airline, manufacturer, and aviation-related company has prioritized the development of new solutions toward achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2050. Sustainability was one of the most popular topics at the show, with programs such as ZeroAvia, Maeve, and the Paris Air Lab representing this trend.
De Havilland Launches the Twin Otter Classic
On June 19th at 6:00 AM local Paris time, De Havilland Canada, a North American manufacturer known for producing valuable regional aviation products such as the Dash 8 series, made a media announcement regarding the launch of their new aircraft, the DHC-6-300G Twin Otter Classic. This plane is being marketed as an upgrade to the previous generation, boasting significant improvements in flight performance.
The new aerodynamic features, avionics, and propulsion plants incorporated in the Twin Otter Classic allow airlines to increase payload without compromising fuel efficiency and runway distance usage, which are both critical considerations for the special operations this aircraft is designed for.
On the first trading day of the 2023 Paris Air Show, the latest version of the Twin Otter was unveiled. The manufacturer gradually disclosed orders and commitments for 45 aircraft throughout the following days.
So far, Flybig Airlines (S9) has placed an order for 10 units, while JetCraft Corporation has acquired another 10 units. Additionally, Zimex Aviation (XM) will soon take delivery of two Twin Otter Classics.
India Goes Wild For Airbus, Boeing Orders
If we were to consider the commercial aviation market with the largest presence during the trade days of the 2023 Paris Air Show, India would be the first country to come to mind by far. The South-Asian country is currently experiencing one of the fastest and most promising economic growth rates in the world.
Due to the pressing need for more aircraft to support air travel demand in the Indian domestic and international aviation market, Air India (AI) ordered 470 narrow and widebody airplanes from two industry giants, Boeing and Airbus.
The official AI order announcement includes an order for 40 Airbus A350, 20 Boeing 787, and 10 Boeing 777X long-haul aircraft, as well as 210 Airbus A320neo and 190 Boeing 737 MAX short-haul aircraft.
Nonetheless, the most notable event of this year’s Paris Air Show was the biggest single airline order in Airbus’ history, since the company’s foundation in 1970, as Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo (6E) ordered 500 A320 family aircraft in one go.
The A330neo Surpasses the A350 for the First Time
Shortly after celebrating the A350’s 10th year anniversary since its inaugural flight, and very soon commemorating one decade after the A330neo’s launch, the Airbus wide-body fleet had a significant presence at the Paris Air Show. And while the aircraft did not make any physical appearance during the trade days, the A350 and A330neo family still managed to amass orders from lessors and airlines.
The A350 received less attention from potential customers this time around, as it only received orders from two airlines for a combined total of 12 aircraft. On June 19, Air Mauritius (MK) committed to obtaining three units of the A350-900. Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PR) officially placed an order for nine Airbus A350-1000ULR airplanes, which will allow the airline to fly longer routes to the US and Canada.
However, this year’s surprise came from the younger Airbus A330neo family. The program, which has received fewer than 300 orders since its launch almost ten years ago, performed remarkably well at the 2023 Paris Air Show. This excellent performance was due to SalamAir’s (OV) dry-leasing agreement of three A330-900s, along with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global lessor Avolon for up to 20 aircraft in the family.
Avolon, TOP Lessor at the Paris Air Show
The 2023 Paris Air Show showcased strong leadership, not just from the airline industry, but also from the dry-leasing sector. As a result, many carriers are opting for leasing services instead of completely purchasing new aircraft, as it provides them with more flexibility and freedom to use and rotate their fleet.
For this reason, several lessors played significant roles during the trade days. AirLease Corporation, Aviation Capital Group, Azorra Aviation, and Nordic Aviation Capital are just some of the companies that either agreed to purchase new aircraft or signed dry-leasing contracts with third-party airlines during the event.
Dublin-based Avolon was undoubtedly the dry-leasing company that benefited the most from the global meeting of airlines and manufacturers at LBG this year. The lessor collected orders and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for over 60 aircraft in both the narrowbody and widebody sections of commercial aviation.
On June 20, Avolon signed a substantial agreement with Boeing to incorporate an additional 40 units of the Boeing 737 MAX family, as well as a leasing contract for three A330neos for OV, the Omani LCC.
The following day, the lessor announced an MoU with Airbus for the delivery of 20 units of the A330-900 aircraft.
The Boeing 737-10 Struggles to Find Customers
Boeing has placed all of its trust in the short-haul market on the successful yet controversial Boeing 737 MAX series, which includes four different variants with distinguished lengths and capacities. While airlines have placed orders for all MAX versions, except for the Boeing 737-10, the default 737-8 variant has attracted the most potential customers during the Paris Air Show.
Indian LCC Akasa Air (QP) announced the acquisition of four -8 units on June 21, and Avolon also included this variant on their order list with 40 additional airframes. However, the longest 737-10, the only showcased MAX plane that is still lacking certification, has not received a single agreement since the massive Ryanair (FR) deal for 300 units on May 9, 2023.
Even the smallest variant, the Boeing 737-7, which is expected to be approved by the FAA earlier than the -10, has only found a shy order from Luxair (LG). The airline has become the European launch customer of the type by ordering four airplanes as part of its Boeing 737NG fleet renewal.
The Boeing 777X Collects Zero Orders
At the 2023 Paris Air Show, one of the main attractions for press, exhibitors, and professional visitors was the upcoming replacement of the largest twin-engine jet and the world’s most popular wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 777-9.
At PAS2023, the 777X variant offered multiple daily inside tours to provide the latest updates about its certification process, with over 300 people passing through its doors to check out the latest technologies inside the aircraft.
Despite the high expectations surrounding the aircraft, the program failed to take off at the show, as it did not receive a single order from lessors or airlines. While the aircraft does appear on the AI 470 aircraft order book, this was known before the Paris Air Show.
While some airlines may have shown interest in the new-generation long-haul aircraft, the program is losing potential due to delays in certification and initial delivery dates. As of now, the Boeing 777-9, first flown on January 25, 2020, will not be granted certification until at least the next Paris Air Show in 2025.
The Embraer E2 Family Makes Strides
Embraer, the Brazilian manufacturer, was present at the Paris Air Show, showcasing its full trust in the recently introduced E2 series, specifically the E-195 E2. At the show, Embraer displayed a Helvetic (2L) branded plane, as well as the Profit Hunter demonstrator aircraft, AKA the Tech Lion.
The absence of the smaller E-190 E2 variant at the show indicated that Embraer is currently focusing its commercial aviation campaign on the longer and most sold airplane. This was reflected during countless press conferences celebrated by the manufacturer in its chalet at LBG.
In total, the E2 family received orders for 31 aircraft from Porter Airlines (PD) via Avolon for 10 units, from Azorra Aviation for 15 units, and from Binter Canarias (NT) for 6 units. Additionally, Embraer confirmed demand for the former E-Jet family, with Envoy Air (MQ) acquiring seven additional E-175 E1 units.
Embraer also announced the latest updates on its freighter conversion programs, signed an LoA with the Lanzhou Group for 20 P2F conversions, and unveiled its strategy to soon implement the urban air mobility EVE aircraft.
ATR: Optimistic About Traffic Demand
ATR, the regional aircraft manufacturer, focused on promoting the great performance, fuel efficiency, and passenger experience of its commercial aircraft catalog, which currently includes the ATR 72-600 and 42-600 variants. At the Paris Air Show, the longest 72 version featuring the Azul (AD) livery was showcased, right next to the company’s chalet and surrounded by the Embraer KC-390 and Airbus A220.
The ATR 72-600 was the recipient of the largest number of orders in the current year of 2023. Although no order announcements occurred at PAS2023, ATR did reveal the acquisition of aircraft by companies such as Mandarin Airlines (AE) and Berjaya Air (J8), with the latter opting for an All-Business Class premium layout.
In addition, ATR announced other orders in 2023, including 3+2 ATR 72-600 aircraft purchased by AD, as well as eight ATR72-600 and three ATR 42-600 units ordered by five undisclosed customers. The French manufacturer also conducted various press conferences during the trade days, promoting sustainability programs and its ATR Highline product.
Final Thoughts on the 54th Edition of the Paris Air Show
The Paris Air Show debuted 115 years ago in 1908 when aviation was a pioneering form of travel that had not yet been designed for the public and regular transport of passengers. Instead, it was viewed more as an experimental field to explore the sky.
Today, over a century later, the event has remained one of the most significant in the aviation industry, with 54 editions taking place and surprising announcements still occurring on the apron of Paris-Le Bourget Airport.
The 2023 edition will be remembered as one of the most exciting due to record orders from 6E and AI, which placed Asia as a serious contender to become the world’s largest market. Additionally, aviation sustainability made staggering progress, with goals set to eliminate carbon emissions from commercial aircraft by 2050.
The date for the next event has been established, and the 55th edition of the Paris Air Show will occur between June 16 and 22, 2025, promising ambitious projects, incredible announcements, and amazing flight displays above the capital of France.
What are your expectations for the next Paris Air Show? Which airlines or manufacturers do you believe will perform the best in 2025?
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Featured image: Simone Chellini/Airways