Farnborough, UK: Aircraft manufacturers Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS said they see a recovery in the commercial aviation market as their latest planes, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, went on display next to each other at the opening of the Farnborough airshow on Monday.
“The market is clearly coming back and I feel very confident about how we are positioned to regain—and retain—leadership in this business,” Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing’s commercial airplanes unit, said at a briefing.
The International Air Transport Association has forecast that global airline industry profits will reach $2.5 billion (around Rs11,775 crore) this year as the industry recovers from a $9.4 billion loss in 2009 when the US and Europe battled their worst recession in decades.
Farnborough hosts the massive aviation and arms jamboree every other year, rotating with Le Bourget near Paris. For a week, the quiet Hampshire town in southern England will be transformed into an armed camp bristling with both the latest smart weapons for arms buyers and shiniest new passenger jets.
“You’ll be surprised by some of the announcements we’ll make,” Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said at a press conference in London on 17 July. “The world economy is turning around.”
A star attraction is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a much-delayed aircraft, now in testing and built from composites, which made its public debut.
Air India officials, led by chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav, are in discussions on the status of Dreamliner deliveries. It’s likely to get its first Dreamliner next year while Jet Airways (India) Ltd is expected to get its first one in 2014.
Boeing said in a statement that the Dreamliner is in testing, but did not deny that the first delivery of the aircraft for commercial service may slip into next year. It had targeted the first delivery to Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd.
“With hundreds of flights completed, we continue to make progress with the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 Freighter in flight tests and are focused on ensuring that both aircraft are ready to enter service so they start earning revenue for our customers,” said Albaugh.
Dubai’s Emirates Airlines ordered 30 long-range Boeing 777-300ER aircraft valued at $9.1 billion at the start of the show. Emirates stole the limelight at the Berlin airshow a month ago with an $11 billion order for A380 superjumbos from Airbus.
GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas), the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of General Electric Co., announced an order for 40 Boeing 737-800s, valued at approximately $3 billion.
It has also signed an agreement for a “firm order for 60 additional A320 family aircraft”, Airbus said.
Air Lease Corp., a recently formed aircraft financing and leasing company, announced an order for 51 A320 aircraft.
Italy’s biggest defence firm Finmeccanica SpA also unveiled its multi-purpose, twin-engine light-transport utility helicopter AW169 made by sister concern Augusta Westland.
Around 1,000 exhibitors from 38 countries are participating at the Farnborough airshow that runs until 25 July.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this story.
Tarun Shukla is in Farnborough as a guest of Finmeccanica SpA.