Arch rivals Airbus and Boeing are locked in a battle for orders at this week’s Farnborough Airshow, as the airline industry lifts off again after a two-year slump.
With Boeing displaying its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner for the first time in Europe, the two plane makers will also be going out of their way to prove they have the right strategy for the future of air travel.
Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial division expects “quite a number of orders” but declined to give an exact figure. The Seattle-based manufacturer has already raised its internal order forecast this year, he confirmed.
Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has announced an order for 30 Boeing 777-300ERs at the show today. Eighteen of these were previously attributed to an unidentified customer on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website.
“The market is coming back, we’re seeing airlines being profitable, some of them for the first time in a few years,” Mr Albaugh said. “People who haven’t been in the market for a while are coming back.”
Boeing is also expecting a “healthy increase” in orders for the Dreamliner. It currently has 860 on order from customers in 56 countries, worth almost £100bn. These include the launch customer, All Nippon Airways, with 55 orders, Qantas has ordered 50 787s for its budget subsidiary Jetstar.
ILFC, which leases aircraft to airlines worldwide, is the largest customer with a total order of 74 orders.
Russia is reportedly pressing Boeing to deliver 787s to the state-run airline Aeroflot in time for the 2014 Olympics.
Over in the Airbus camp, John Leahy, chief operating officer, is aiming to double the 131 orders it has received so far in 2010 during the week of the show, with lucrative first and business-class passengers returning to the skies. “Traffic is back both in the front of the aircraft and in the back.”
Like Boeing, the bulk of growth will come from the faster-growing economies of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, leaving the US, Europe and Japan to share a smaller proportion of sales.