Airbus and Boeing have presented their final order numbers after a busy few days at Farnborough, as John Walton reports.
As exhausted journalists trooped between the Airbus and Boeing chalets on the final day of the Farnborough Airshow prior to the public flight displays on the weekend, the spectre of the “undisclosed customer” loomed large, with one undisclosed Airbus order and three from Boeing together exceeding the number of named orders.
Doubling down on his explanation for the trend, Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz highlighted that few international airlines want to wake up to find themselves the subject of a Twitter tirade from the United States President.
Boeing’s senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing Ihssane Mounir, meanwhile, was in a minority of industry observers when he suggested that he did not see any particular change in previous years’ patterns.
— John Walton @ #FIA18 🏳️🌈 ✈️ 💺 (@thatjohn) July 19, 2018
While the fight between Airbus and Boeing for order show totals makes for good headlines, the reality is that both airframers are remarkably matched and did remarkably well in the show: Airbus ended the show with a slightly larger 2018-so-far order book, while Boeing edged Airbus on the numbers.
For the record, Boeing claimed 673 orders and commitments, while Airbus put its figure for firm orders and MoUs for Farnborough at 431.
As one tired insider noted after the final press conference: neither is going out of business any time soon.
“Boeing led the way at Farnborough, demonstrating value for our customers, capturing important new business in products and services, and announcing the unique strength of our strategic partnership with Embraer,” Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg as the air show closed.
“We also invested in our European communities, and launched our new Boeing NeXt organization—proving the future is built here, at Boeing. We will continue to win in the marketplace thanks to our talented team, who innovate across our enterprise with One Boeing collaboration and deliver on our proven portfolio with relentless customer focus.”
Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz, meanwhile, said: “Our year to date and our end of show commitments confirm the strong market appetite for all our leading aircraft product families, from our newest member, the 100-150 seater A220, complemented by our A320 Family up to 240 seats, seamlessly connected to our widebody family with the all-new A330neo and A350 XWB which span from 250-370 seats. At the top end, our A380 is now opening new opportunities for the second-hand market”.
“I am especially pleased about the strong response that our Widebody Family is enjoying,” Schulz noted. “Over 150 orders and commitments for our A330/A350/A380 offerings in 2018 are a strong endorsement. At Airbus, we are positive about our future – in Single Aisles, Widebodies and the Middle of the Market. We are right there with the right aircraft.”
Both airframers will be delighted by the performance of their re-engined narrowbodies, the 737 MAX and A320neo.
Airbus will be pleased with orders for its re-engined A330neo programme, while Boeing received none for its forthcoming 777X aircraft, although it did fill the gap between the current generation and the future with a large number of 777 freighter aircraft — to Airbus’ zero freighter orders.
HiFly A380 highlights marine life at Farnborough
Airbus executives were visibly thrilled by the arrival of the first Airbus A380 to serve in the secondhand market, a former Singapore Airlines aircraft now registered to wetlease specialist HiFly, which has recently been operating extensively to substitute for Boeing 787 Dreamliners during the ongoing issue with Rolls-Royce engines.
— John Walton @ #FIA18 🏳️🌈 ✈️ 💺 (@thatjohn) July 19, 2018
The aircraft 9H-MIP marked the 12th year an A380 was seen at the Farnborough (or Paris, which dovetails with Farnborough every other year) Airshow, and the operator displayed a striking new livery that highlights the necessity for action to save marine life, in conjunction with the Mirpuri Foundation with which HiFly president Paulo Mirpuri is also associated.
“A big cause requires a big answer and now, the biggest commercial aircraft on the planet will be the one carrying this big message around the globe,” Mirpuri said, with HiFly stating that the livery “exhibits a strong statement that clearly illustrates the importance of the cause and the urgency to act”.
“The aircraft features two very dissimilar sides: one side in dark blue displaying destroyed corals contrasting with a light blue side representing a pristine ocean with colourful and healthy marine life. With this initiative Hi Fly aims to amplify the campaign’s impact by reaching all corners on earth and inspiring the change of collective behaviours.”
HiFly’s A380 fleet will operate as either supplemental capacity for non-A380 operators or to substitute for existing operators’ superjumbo maintenance schedules.
“The main deck has the first class for 12 passengers and economy class for 311 passengers while the upper deck has business and economy class seats carrying 60 and 88 passengers, respectively,” HiFly said, noting somewhat ominously that “in a high density version, the aircraft can carry up to 853 passengers.”
The aircraft is intended to be used on an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) basis, while all the interiors of the jet are ex-Singapore Airlines: in fact, roughly the same configuration as when Singapore launched the A380 11 years ago, with an upper deck economy cabin and no premium economy seating.
The A380 joins A340, A330 and A320 aircraft in the HiFly fleet, and will operate with between 18 and 20 cabin crew on board.
Pride flags fly over Farnborough
Airbus concluded the four principal trade days of the show by hoisting pride flags on the balcony of its chalet in a visible show of its support for the LGBT community.
Pride events are happening across the world so we are showing our support by raising the rainbow flag at #FIA18 with Thierry Baril, Airbus Chief HR Officer.
To all of our Pride@Airbus employee networks, Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈@BarilTh #EmbraceDiversity #WeAreOne #LGBT4Biz #UNLGBTI pic.twitter.com/D1dRmRfj7D
— Airbus Careers (@AirbusCareers) July 19, 2018
More undisclosed customers
More groans echoed around Airbus’ chalet early on Thursday morning as an unidentified customer signed yet another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), this time for 10 A320neo aircraft.
Boeing too kept up the undisclosed customer theme of Farnborough, announcing a massive order for 100 737 MAX aircraft.
While no further details about the customer were released, Boeing senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing did mention repeat customers in a statement: “We are honored that so many customers continue to see the unmatched value of the 737 MAX airplane family and are coming back to place repeat orders. This is a significant commitment that reflects the strong demand for the MAX and the health of the single-aisle market.”
There were also Boeing also announced two separate orders that, combined, came to 15 787 Dreamliners. “One of the airlines would become a new 787 customer. The second airline is adding more 787s to their Dreamliner fleet,” the airframer said.
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) July 19, 2018
Hawaiian firms up Dreamliner order
Hawaiian Airlines confirmed its earlier letter of intent to purchase 10 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, with purchase rights for 10 further jets.
Boeing had pulled the deal out from under Airbus’ A330-800neo aircraft, which Hawaiian had previously provisionally selected.
— John Walton @ #FIA18 🏳️🌈 ✈️ 💺 (@thatjohn) July 19, 2018
“We continue to see strong market demand for the Dreamliner and its game-changing capabilities. The more that airlines see what this airplane can do and the more that passengers experience the Dreamliner, the more calls we get about a new order or a repeat order,” said Ihssane Mounir, Boeing senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, resplendent in a bright Hawaiian shirt today in Farnborough.
Peter Ingram, president and chief executive of Hawaiian Airlines, explained that “the aircraft provides Hawaiian with more seating capacity and greater range to expand within our current network and offer new destinations to and from Asia Pacific and North America.”
Services are also included in the deal, with Kevin McAllister, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, noting that “we look forward to delivering the Dreamliner to Hawaiian and supporting them with integrated services to help them operate more efficiently and lower their costs.”
Boeing’s bridge-building for its big twin continues
Boeing made two announcements for its 777-300ER widebody on Thursday as it works to fill up the production slots in the transition to the 777-9X and 777-8X.
First, Dubai-based leasing company Novus Aviation Capital signed an agreement for four 777-300ERs to add to its existing portfolio of more than four dozen aircraft. It was Novus’ first direct order with Boeing.
Hani Kuzbari, managing director at Novus Aviation Capital, explained the lessor’s strategy. “This is in line with our continuous pursuit to create value within our aircraft portfolio. We have successfully invested in the Boeing 777 over the last decade with proven return on our investment. The aircraft type remains a strong long-haul wide body aircraft for our airline customers globally.”
The second 777-300ER deal came from British Airways, which came ironically late to an airshow practically within sight of its headquarters.
The airline announced after the airframers’ wrapup press conferences and final numbers media statements that it would lease three further Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from an undisclosed lessor.
The airline had announced the replacement of its final three early 777-200 aircraft previously, but had not revealed further details.
AirAsia X ends speculation over widebody fleet
Coming into Farnborough 2018, AirAsia X’s order for 66 Airbus A330-900 aircraft seemed in doubt, with Boeing keen to take a key win from one of Airbus’ most prominent and outspoken customers.
Yet it seems, not for the first time as far as AirAsia is concerned, that it was all a ploy: Kamarudin Meranun, AirAsia co-founder and AirAsia X group chief executive, and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, chairman of AirAsia X, confirmed not only for the original 66 but for an additional 34 A330-900s, marking a colossal expansion of the long-haul low-cost carrier.
“Offering range capability enabling non-stop services to Europe, including from Kuala Lumpur to London, the A330neo will allow AirAsia X to expand its value-based long haul model with even lower operating costs, while enabling its passengers to fly further more often with highly competitive fares,” Airbus highlighted.
“Long haul low-cost is something we strongly believe in, and this order shows our confidence in the AirAsia X model,” Meranun said.
“We lobbied hard for the A330neo after seeing the success of the A320neo, and working closely with Airbus, we have arrived at an aircraft that we are confident will allow us to expand our low fares offering beyond Asia Pacific to the rest of the world.”
VietJet. Boeing one day, Airbus the next
A seemingly hurried press conference with VietJet — which ordered big at Boeing yesterday — resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 50 Airbus A321neos, signed for by the airline’s vice president Dinh Viet Phuong.
VietJet’s announcement was made at the same time that AirAsia was supposed to be speaking in Kuala Lumpur, and not only did the press release contain none of the usual pleasantries and quotes, Airbus didn’t even have a custom-painted plane for the airline.
A hurried affair to assuage concerns of defections to Boeing in the context of the Hawaiian Airlines order? Viewer’s remorse? Overconfidence in the Vietnam market? Or something else? Observers’ antennae were certainly twitching.
Airbus and Aireon announce agreement on Airsense
As requirements for aircraft tracking from the International Civil Aviation Organisation and other bodies loom on the horizon, Airbus Defence and Space today launched AirSense in partnership with Aireon, a US company with strengths in existing technologies — all to enable live aircraft surveillance worldwide.
“The agreement signed at the Farnborough Air Show forms a strategic partnership between Airbus and Aireon, provider of global, space-based ADS-B data,” the companies said in a statement.
“This partnership is enabling AirSense to accurately track any aircraft in real-time and identify flight-related events around the globe.”
AirSense expands on ADS-B (the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system primarily used for tracking today) with additional data sources.
“AirSense now combines Aireon‘s global, space-based ADS-B data with unique Airbus assets and domain expertise to offer advanced analytics leading to further enhance the aircraft situational awareness, optimise flight routes, increase airport capacity, optimise airspace utilisation and improve the overall travel experience,” the companies explained, noting also that “the collaboration also paves the way to further develop applications for improved industry operations delivered through the various Airbus service offerings.”
Aireon chief executive Don Thoma noted that “our strategic partnership with Airbus allows us to combine Aireon’s unique data with AirSense offerings bringing more value to the broader airspace community”.
“Airbus develops and deploys ground-breaking assets for the aviation industry and they are a great partner for future services and solutions. Airbus prides itself on safety and efficiency and these are two of Aireon’s overarching core values,” Thoma said.
Evert Dudok, executive vice president for Airbus Defence and Space, said that “we are very proud to have Aireon as a strategic partner to Airbus. Their unique, global space-based ADS-B data will enable Airbus to apply its domain expertise and with AirSense further develop aggregated, live and predictive analytics serving at large the aviation industry with trusted insights”.