Air Transport World

Farnborough 2008: this year's edition arrives as the airline industry teeters between profits and loss.(AIRSHOW)(Statistical table)

TWO YEARS CAN SEEM like a lifetime in the air transport industry. When the world aerospace community last convened at the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2006, fortunes were on the upswing. Profitability had returned to airlines outside of North America and the current aircraft reorder cycle was in its second year.

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A scant 24 months later, carriers around the globe are reeling from oil prices that reached a new high of $138 per barrel in early June. The US economy appears to be headed for recession and even Ryanair, which had a 16% pre-tax margin in its fiscal year ended March 31, is warning that should oil prices remain at the current level, it may do no better than a breakeven result in the current year.

This is the tenuous setting for the 2008 edition of the Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20). Defying what appears to be an inevitable downturn, organizers claim this show will be the biggest yet. Exhibition sales are expected to be up almost 20% over 2006, with more than 1,500 exhibitors in attendance, up 5%. All chalets are booked.

Also defying expectations is the strength of the order cycle in 2008. Airbus and Boeing have said on numerous occasions that they do not foresee a rerun of last year's performance, when each set sales records, Boeing booking 1,413 new orders and Airbus 1,341. …

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