All jetliners might look alike to anyone who thinks that an airplane is an airplane is an airplane. And, yes, to the casual observer there is great similarity between Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, and much in common between A330s and 777s. Even the mighty new A380, with its low, swept wings and four underslung engines, follows established trends apart from a full-length upper deck–and that also has been tried before.
US Airways has placed a firm order for 92 Airbus airliners, including the first ever for the A350XWB by a U.S. airline.
Airbus CEO John Leahy confirmed at the Paris Air Show that the company has the first firm commitment for its giant A380 airliner for conversion to an executive/VIP role. Leahy declined, however, to reveal the name of the buyer, saying only that he was not American or European and the airplane would be for his personal use.
This week’s spate of large-airliner orders, many confirming previous announcements, continued on Wednesday as Airbus and Boeing unveiled further business. More new deals could be revealed today. For example, International Lease Finance Corp. is talking to Airbus about its unresolved requirement for about 16 A350 XWB aircraft.
The GE Aviation /Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance, which builds the GP7200 powering the Airbus A380 flying at the show, is ready to offer a powerplant solution for the A350XWB, if Airbus and GE fail to reach agreement.
Desperately keen to present a positive image here at Le Bourget following the past two years’ industrial troubles, Airbus is working to ensure the support of production-line workers for its proposals to rationalize the business. Airbus plans to improve earnings before interest and tax by a cumulative $6.6 billion during by 2010 and to generate an additional $2.8 billion annual revenue from 2010.
An International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) order for 50 Boeing 787s, plus conversion of two previously unannounced options (booked earlier this year along with a 777-300ER, for which ILFC was the launch customer) has brought total announced orders for the new twin-aisle twinjet to 634 from 45 customers since its launch in April 2004.
Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois declared yesterday that the European consortium “is back, fully back,” from an odyssey through one of the most trying two years in its history. Any such pronouncement made a day early would no doubt have elicited a hearty belly laugh or two within the Boeing chalet.
Airbus looked intent on making up for two years of persistent hits to its credibility virtually all at once yesterday with a nearly uninterrupted string of sales, order “commitments” and MoU announcements, led by firm orders for 80 A350 XWBs from Qatar Airways and 60 A320s from GE Commercial Aviation Service.
Rolls-Royce is celebrating its biggest ever civil engines order, a $5.6 billion deal for Trent XWBs to power Qatar Airways’ 80 Airbus A350 XWBs, and it is set to announce even more orders for the engine during the show.
US Airways has also committed to the engine for its 22 A350s in a $1.8 million deal. Both contracts include Rolls-Royce’s TotalCare long-term services agreement.