Airbus, Boeing ink $26b in orders at show
Fuel-efficient craft are highlighted
LE BOURGET, France — Airbus and Boeing signed more than $26 billion in orders to kick off the Paris Air Show yesterday, but the European jet maker’s appearance at the industry’s biggest annual event suffered a setback when its star superjumbo clipped a wing.
The haul from the first day of the show was an improvement from recent years, despite a challenging environment for the industry, which faces high fuel prices, a slowing global economy, and uncertainty caused by violence in the Middle East and Japan’s natural disasters.
Airbus topped the totals, signing orders and commitments for 142 aircraft worth $15 billion at list prices, the company said.
Of note were firm orders for 90 of its A320neo, a version of the workhorse jet that has been revamped to make it more fuel efficient.
Boeing countered with more than $11 billion worth of orders and commitments for 56 of its jets, including an order by Qatar Airways for six of its 777 jets in a $1.7 billion deal.
Airlines are particularly interested in energy-efficient models at this year’s show, and displays included biofuel and hybrid engines as well as a solar plane.
Airbus’s superjumbo A380 was grounded after breaking a wing tip on a taxiway structure, the latest in a string of embarrassments for the company.
The plane sustained the damage Sunday after a slow-speed collision with a building at the Le Bourget airport, where the world’s largest and oldest aviation showcase is taking place, Alexander Reinhardt, a spokesman for EADS, Airbus’s holding company, said yesterday.
Airbus quickly found a replacement jet for demonstration flights during the air show, an A380 operated by Korean Air. But the planemaker is facing other setbacks.
The Airbus A400M military transport plane had to cancel a demonstration flight because of what the manufacturer described as a minor gearbox problem.
On Saturday, Airbus announced that two of the three versions of its new widebody jet, the A350, would be delayed about two years.
The stretched A350-1000 is being pushed back to 2017 to give engine supplier Rolls Royce time to develop a more powerful motor that will extend the jet’s range, Airbus said. The standard version of the plane, the A350-900, is expected to arrive in the second half of 2013.
Airbus’s chief salesman, John Leahy, defended the delay, saying the revamped A350-1000 would best rival Boeing’s 777-300ER by flying 400 nautical miles further while burning 25 percent less fuel.
“Yes, we were supposed to come out in 2015, but customers said, ‘Give us some extra performance and we can take the delay,’ ’’ he said.
Still, Akbar Al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, said at a news conference with Boeing officials that he regretted hearing of “significant delays’’ in the Airbus A350 program.