Air Transport World

Signs of life: Paris Air Show demonstrated surprising vitality as orders appeared and manufacturers moved on plans for the post-recovery period. (Air Shows).

The 45th return of the Paris Air Show--and the first of the line to have that exact name--was far less dull than had been anticipated, at least from the viewpoint of an airline industry observer. True, the transatlantic spat between France and the US diminished the military and possibly the space aspects of the exhibition, but from a civil aviation standpoint the dominant force holding down expectations was the demonic curses hammering the industry into an economic stupor.

Nevertheless, the sun mostly shone, the usual exhibitors showed up--including Airbus, which flew, as usual, and Boeing, which didn't, as usual--a regional jet made its air show debut and new RJs were discussed, several airlines ordered many billions of dollars worth of aircraft, an exciting new airliner proposal was the subject of fervent discussion, and the worst that could be said about the level of professional attendance was that it was down slightly.

Big money numbers bounced around chalet row, most of them centered at the Airbus chalet where that manufacturer happily announced orders worth $19.8 billion while hosting ceremonies "presenting" Frontier Airlines with the first A318--although actual delivery was still two months away--and Northwest Airlines with its first A330. Boeing, meanwhile, could point at commitments for 33 777s and two 747-400ERFs, although 22 of the 777-300ERs were leases of previously ordered aircraft. …

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