MIAMI – The 53rd International Paris Air Show (#PAS19) in Le Bourget is set to launch on Monday, June 17, 2019. Known to be the world’s largest air show exhibition, this year’s event is expected to bring orders, announcements, and heated press conferences.
In 2017, more than 2,381 exhibitors from 48 countries showcased its products during the first three days at Le Bourget, where more than $150 billion worth of deals were announced, including 897 orders and commitments for a total of 934 commercial aircraft.
The total order tally from 2017 logs 1,226 orders and commitments, including 352 firm orders, 699 letters of intent (LOI) or memorandums of understanding (MOU), 40 purchasing options, and 135 optional LOIs.
Moreover, 229 conversions from existing orders turned the Boeing 737 MAX 10 into an utter success, following the aircraft type’s official launch during the show.
As usual, the biggest product line that scored the most orders was the narrow body families from both Boeing and Airbus, totaling 1,021 orders.
The wide body side of the spectrum scored only 76 orders, whereas 48 regional jets and 81 turboprop planes were sold to other customers.
Curiously, Boeing came out as the winner of the show with 766 deals, followed by Airbus with 331. This year, however, things might drastically change.
“The 52nd Paris Le Bourget Air Show was a remarkable success with a record number of exhibitors and 150 billion dollars’ worth of orders announced, despite the slight drop in the number of visitors,” said
Emeric d’Arcimoles, the Paris Air Show’s Chairman and CEO.
For the delight of all spectators, a total of 140 aircraft, including the Airbus A321neo, A350-1000, A380, Boeing 787-10, 737 MAX 9, and the Embraer E190-E2, were part of the show’s static and flying display, wowing the crowd with impressive maneuvers.
This year, however, the available aircraft on display will be drastically diminished, as American manufacturers Boeing, Bombardier, and Embraer will be bringing only a fraction of the planes they usually put on display.
Adding to the malaise is a backdrop of a declining global economic situation. Here’s what Airways expects will happen.
Airbus: Should be the Queen of the Show
Airbus will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, flooding the exhibition with all its current aircraft, including the A380, and quite possibly announcing new products that might put its competition in dire trouble.
The manufacturer’s A220, A321LR, A330neo, two A350-1000s (one in Qatar Airways colors), and the A380 will all be on the static display.
The show’s organizers are yet to confirm which planes will participate in the flying displays.
Airbus is also expected to come forward with the much-expected upgrade on its A321neo program—the extra-long-range variant, A321XLR.
The European planemaker’s CEO, Christian Scherer, recently said at the IATA AGM in Seoul that it could deliver an extended-range A321XLR derivative within five years. “The earliest you can expect any new versions of an A321 with some serious work done on it would be the 2023-24 timeframe,” he said.
Should Airbus announce the launch of this extended range narrowbody variant, it will cause tremendous pressure on Boeing and its NMA project, which has failed to pick up pace as the American manufacturer mitigates the 737 MAX crisis that has seen all of its planes grounded.
Earlier today, The Air Current confirmed that Airbus will be launching its A321XLR program with “a mix of both new purchase commitments, as well as conversions of existing A320neo family aircraft orders.” Reportedly, one US customer is within these interested parties.
Another aircraft that could receive substantial orders is the Airbus A220. Last year, both Moxy and JetBlue injected tremendous confidence by ordering more than 120 units. More are likely to follow next week.
This year, with the Airbus sales powerhouse behind the former Bombardier product, sales are expected to be announced, especially as the Boeing 737 MAX program continues to cast uncertainty.
Lastly, Airbus might shed some light on potential range upgrades on its A350-1000 variant, wooing Qantas Airways and its requested Project Sunrise, which demands nonstop flights between Sydney and London.
Even though the Australian carrier said that the decision on which plane they will choose should come by the end of the year, Airbus might come up with the increased range option that will allow the A350-1000 to fly as far as 10,600 miles on a single tank—over 21 hours soaring the skies.
Boeing: Dismal Results Ahead
Boeing’s commercial presence for the airshow seems to be particularly small compared to previous years. The North American manufacturer has confirmed that it will be sending over a sole 737 Converted Freighter in Boeing colors, as well as an Air Tahiti Nui 787-9 Dreamliner.
No 777s and, obviously, no 737s will be showcased in Le Bourget—usually Boeing’s best-selling planes.
Firstly, Boeing will not be flying over to Paris its 737 MAX planes, as there is a worldwide grounding following the two fatal crashes that involved a Lion Air and an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8. It is important to mention that the 737 program has always been Boeing’s best-selling airliner at air shows. Airways expects that the likelihood of seeing any sales for this particular program is very low.
Secondly, Boeing has left behind its 777-300(ER)—usually omnipresent at any airshow—as the manufacturer is focusing to get back on track with the first flight preparations of the 777-X.
The new plane’s first flight was just delayed for as much as six months because of some technical woes with the GE-9X engines, likely pushing its November 2020 delivery to Lufthansa far into 2021.
At one point, Boeing was expected to announce the launch of the NMA at #PAS2019 but this is off the table. In fact, many are speculating Boeing is now fast-tracking a clean sheet 737 MAX replacement, with future campaigns looking bleak.
It is possible that Boeing will score some orders for its 777-X program. However, the 787-9 and -10 variants might prove to be more successful in attracting further orders in Asia and Oceania.
Alternatively, Boeing might shift its focus to its new venture with Brazilian planemaker, Embraer.
After months of deliberation, Boeing released a new title for Embraer’s commercial aviation division. The name, Boeing Brasil – Commercial, represents a growing trend of consolidation within the commercial aviation industry.
In July 2018, at the Farnborough Air Show, both manufacturers came through with a much-expected collaboration by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would combine efforts to catch up to lost ground against its competitors.
Boeing and Embraer entered into a joint venture that would see the commercial aircraft and services business of Embraer, aligning with Boeing’s commercial development, production, marketing and lifecycle services operations.
The approved joint venture is made up of the commercial aircraft and services operations of Embraer. Boeing will take an 80% ownership stake in the wing with Embraer holding the remaining 20%.
It is expected that both Boeing and Embraer will have something on the table in Le Bourget.
Last year, Embraer had significant success at the Farnborough Air Show with more than 300 units sold at list prices of $15 billion.
Bombardier’s Shy Exit From The Landscape
As the Canadian airplane manufacturer continues its shy exit from the commercial aviation landscape, a sole Bombardier CRJ900 has been confirmed to be present on static display.
In the midst of a significant restructuring of Canadian transport manufacturing giant, Bombardier has exit-stage-left on commercial aviation and now setting its sights on the more lucrative industries of mass-rail transport and business jets.
Bombardier’s rapid exit from the Commercial Aviation sector has accelerated with the proposed sale of its CRJ program to the Japanese conglomerate, Mitsubishi—a deal that it’s expected to be formalized during the show.
The final sale of its CSeries program (rebranded the A220) to Airbus earlier this year, and closing a multi-million dollar deal with Canada Longview Aviation for the sale of its Q400 turboprop aircraft several weeks ago, marked the beginning of the end for Canada’s prime commercial airplane manufacturer.
In a statement released last week by Mitsubishi, the company advised, “It is true that we are in discussions relating to a possible transaction involving Bombardier’s regional jet program with strict adherence to the applicable competition rules and regulations.”
“However, neither has any corporate decision been made nor are there any prospects as to the contents of such a transaction. If ever any such decision is made, we will disclose as necessary in accordance with the applicable stock exchange regulations.”
A press conference is scheduled on Monday that is expected to confirm the tie-up. Mitsubishi has confirmed the presence of its MRJ90 to the show, though it has been rebranded and the product line adjusted. Mitsubishi will formerly introduce a replacement for the MRJ-70 known as the M100 “Space Jet” for introduction into 2023 specifically optimized to meet the United States to meet pilot scope clauses. It will offer a wider fuselage and larger bins than its E Jet competitors, and a longer wing-span than the original MRJ-70. The MRJ-90 has been rechristened the M90. Airways will be there to cover any developments on this front.
As far as the former Bombardier Q400 aircraft is concerned, Viking Air Limited has re-named it as DeHavilland Q400, and will, too, be present at the show. Viking will be looking to secure some more orders to keep the production line sufficient and profitable.
Interesting, Heated, Questioned Air Show
In terms of what we think here at Airways, it is going to be not so much of an enjoyable week in sales for Boeing. We also expect to witness several heated press conferences at the Boeing chalet, with numerous journalists asking for updates on the 737 MAX grounding and the 777-X delay.
Also, Boeing will have to, once again, play catch-up should Airbus launch its A321XLR, the quintessential replacement to the Boeing 757. It would have been nice to see Boeing launching its NMA. But we know it’s not going to happen.
We also believe that Airbus will secure some MAX-to-NEO conversions, but again it is about who will do that or not.
Numbers in terms of orders will be far stronger to the Airbus side, and even if Boeing did decide to announce the NMA project, there is still the damage to play with in terms of the 737 MAX crisis.
With consumer confidence down, it is going to be a hard week for Boeing, to say the least.
Our reporters Chris Sloan and Cody Diamond will be on-site in Le Bourget. Follow us Live from #PAS19 on all of our social media channels: @airwaysmag and @airways live on Twitter. @airwaysmagazine on Instagram.
Written in collaboration by Enrique Perrella, James Field, Chris Sloan, Leila Chaibi