Airbus orders boost Berlin Air Show profile

Airbus orders boost Berlin Air Show profile

Berlin/Helsinki: Airbus announced two more orders at the Berlin Air Show on Thursday, bringing its tally for the week to 67 aircraft orders including a record deal with Emirates for 32 A380 superjumbos.

The biennial Berlin show does not usually see major orders, with airlines traditionally preferring to make announcements at larger air shows such as Farnborough in England and Le Bourget in France, which take place on alternate years in July.

This year’s show, just over a month before Farnborough, had opened with a splash on Tuesday as EADS’ Airbus unit announced $14 billion in new orders, including the record $11 billion A380 order for the Arab world’s largest airline.

“Of course I want that (the Berlin Air Show) gets a boost. I was very happy that we could sign the contract with Emirates here in Berlin, in the presence of (German chancellor Angela Merkel)," Airbus chief executive Tom Enders told reporters on the sidelines of the event at the German capital’s Schoenefeld airport on Thursday.

Before this year’s show, the biggest order ever announced at the Berlin Air Show had been a €3.2 billion ($3.9 billion) order for 35 Airbus aircraft by Gulf Air in 2008.

Merkel had opened the show on Tuesday, just as she was coming under fire from airline executives gathered for the global airline industry body’s annual meeting elsewhere in the city for a proposed air travel tax.

Announcing its final orders agreed at the Berlin Air Show, Airbus said on Thursday Finnish airline Finnair and Berlin-based Germania had agreed to buy five aircraft each.

Finnair signed a letter of intent to order five new A321ER aircraft worth more than €400 million that will replace Boeing 757s used for leisure flights.

The airline is the first to order A321s with “Sharklet" wing tip devices that Airbus said would cut the planes’ fuel consumption by 4%. Fuel is one of an airline’s biggest cost factors, alongside staffing.

Germania signed a memorandum of understanding to buy five Airbus A319s, with a total list price of $372 million.

Germania chief commercial officer John Kohlsaat said in a news conference at the air show that the orders would become firm within a few days.

At its meeting earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association gave a surprise forecast for a 2010 profit of $2.5 billion for the airline industry, fanning hopes the global industry would recover more quickly than expected, boosting demand for air travel and airplanes.