Paris packs more punches than anyone expected

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With the stunning – indeed shocking order for 200 737Max 8/10’s IAG really pulled the rather dull Paris Show up by its britches and made heads turn. One day I sincerely hope the full story of how this came about will be made public.

The order, as I said yesterday was a massive shot in the arm for Boeing’s beleaguered 737Max programme, and that’s why Willy Walsh was so keen to make it happen.

He’s an ex-737 pilot himself, but he knows how weak Boeing’s position is and he saw a golden opportunity to score a massive number of aircraft at huge discounts. Frankly I’m amazed RyanAir didn’t do the same thing sooner; it’s a very Michael O’Leary type of move.

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Yet there were other really important orders yesterday, not the least of which was ATR signing Leasing company Nordic Aviation Capital – part of the Norwegian Airlines Group’s bizarre web of subsidiaries, for 105 ATR-42 & 72 -600’s. They’ll be delivered over the 2020-25 period, and it’s one of ATR’s biggest ever orders.

Airbus continued to ratchet up sales of the A321XLR, with Qantas, Saudia and Cebu all taking significant numbers.  Qantas converted 26 of its 50 A321 order to A321XLR.

Saudi Arabia added more A320neo, going from 35 to 65 aircraft. Fifteen of the additional aircraft are the new A321XLR variant. Air Asia converted 253 A320 orders to A321neo’s, making it the biggest customer ever of the type.

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Indigo Partners – they own several stakes in US and other low-cost operators and at one time tried to save WOW, ordered 50 A321XLR’s for their airline interests.

Boeing announced that Taiwan based China Airlines has signed a letter of intent to order up to six Boeing 777F aircraft, on top of three ordered in May. They currently operate a fleet of 18 Boeing 744F freighters, and want to replace them all eventually with the 777F.

China Airlines also announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus to purchase 11 A321neo, with an additional 14 on lease.

Cebu Pacific outlined that their choice of the A330-900 was governed by Airbus willingness to ram no less than 453 seats into them. That’s a staggering number of single class seats in such an aircraft, most A380’s don’t carry that many as an average, but the one class layout, with near non-existent catering facilities and minimal toilets lets it happen. It’s not an experience many seasoned flyers would relish, but flying in Asia with high demand and low fares makes it viable.

Another order for the A220-100 by Delta, for five more aircraft – making it 95 in total, helps keep that aircfat programme alive, but it’s still not making headway in the way it needs to. It’s just a little bit too expensive for many airlines.

Yet there is significance to many of these orders in other ways. Few are genuinely new aircraft, most are converted from one type to another. There have been few large aircraft orders outside of some 777F freighters and a handful of A339’s and 787’s.  Where are the 777-8 and 9’s? The A350’s?

It’s the lack of these big orders that really notices. It’s all very well manufacturers burning through their order books, but neither of them is collecting enough orders to make up for the speed of production. 30 787’s is barely 2 months of work, half of all orders are already delivered. The A350 is fast approaching the half way mark, the A330 is looking at a reduced rate by 2021, and the 777-8/9 when it gets going could be exhausted in less than 7 years.

All it takes is a recession, some crisis, a fuel price spike, and the airline industry will go into a nose dive again.

 

 

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