Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Paris Air Show: Five things you need to know about the giant aviation event

Airbus launches its new longer-range narrowbody jet while Boeing seeks to regain trust after Max crashes

Airlines, plane makers and aircraft lessors are gathering at Le Bourget this week for the aviation industry's biennial Paris Airshow from June 17 to 23.

The 53rd edition of the show began on Monday with Airbus clinching orders for its new longest-range narrow-body jet, while its US rival Boeing sought to regain the aviation industry's trust after its best-selling 737 Max aircraft were grounded.

Here's what you need to know about one of the aviation industry's biggest gatherings:

Airbus launches the A321XLR

The European plane maker lifted the veil on its newest narrow-body plane intended to meet airlines' demand for long-range flights on smaller craft. The aircraft, a longer version of its A321Neo model, can travel up to 8,700 kilometres, giving it 15 per cent longer range than the A321LR model. The plane, which can serve transatlantic routes, can fly from north-eastern Asia into South Asia, from the Middle East to Bali or from Japan deep into Australia, Airbus sales chief Christian Scherer says. It typically seats about 180 to 220 passengers in a two-class configuration and has 30 per cent less fuel burn per seat. The plane's launch deals a blow to arch-rival Boeing's plans for a new jet called the NMA, targeting middle of the market.

Boeing seeks to contain fallout from deadly Max crashes

The Paris Air Show typically features a multibillion-dollar competition for orders as Airbus and Boeing battle for supremacy, but this year is different. Boeing, in the worst crisis of its 103-year history, will be focused on regaining the trust of customers and suppliers. Two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max model have cast a shadow over the air show and will lead Boeing into damage control mode. "We come to this air show with a tone of humility and learning,” Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said. Boeing also indicated it would be open to changing the name of the troubled Max jet, based on a global study it is conducting of consumer and airline responses to the brand after its three-month grounding. US President Donald Trump had earlier tweeted that the company should “rebrand the plane with a new name".

Aircraft orders demand

Airlines are fighting weaker global economic growth, tighter profit margins, higher costs and fare wars that are threatening to dent profitability. This is raising concerns about whether the duopoly is already planning to build more planes than airlines will need. But in its market outlook launched at the Paris Air Show, Boeing estimates the market for new commercial jet orders and related services could reach $16 trillion over the next two decades. Of that total, airlines will need 44,040 commercial jets, mainly narrow-bodies, valued at $6.8tn. The Middle East will account for 3,130 of those jets.

Middle East deals

So far, the Paris Air Show has seen Middle East companies sign major deals. Lebanon's national carrier Middle East Airlines signed a firm order for four of Airbus's A321XLR jets, making it the region's first carrier to commit to the single-aisle plane. Abu Dhabi's Sanad Aerotech, a subsidiary of Mubadala Investment Company, won a $6.5 billion contract from Rolls-Royce to service engines powering Airbus A330 jets, tripling its annual engine maintenance work.

Implications of the United Technologies-Raytheon merger

The Paris Air Show will also see the industry debate the ramifications of this mega-deal, which will create an aerospace and defence giant.

Updated: June 18, 2019 07:30 AM

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