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Airbus pips Boeing in Paris after last-minute Wizz deal

By Reuters - Jun 18,2015 - Last updated at Jun 18,2015

An Airbus A380 takes off for its demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on Thursday (AP photo)

PARIS — Airbus won more business than rival Boeing at this week’s Paris Airshow, helped by a last-minute deal with eastern European low-cost carrier Wizz Air and buoyed by demand from Asian customers.

Airbus ended the show with orders and commitments for 421 aircraft worth $57 billion, against 331 aircraft worth $50.2 billion for Boeing.

“This was higher than I personally expected,” Fabrice Bregier, the chief executive of Airbus’ plane-making division said at a press conference on Thursday, minutes after announcing Wizz Air intended to buy 110 single-aisle planes following all night negotiations.

“It confirms the market trend is positive,” he added.

Ahead of the show, which runs from June 15-21, many industry watchers had expected a quieter event, with the focus on how manufacturers and their supply chain deliver a record backlog of orders, rather than on winning new deals.

The show revealed some tensions between plane makers and suppliers. GE said it wanted to secure a record increase in engine production for single-aisle planes before deciding whether it could go higher, echoing comments from partner Safran. 

Bregier said suppliers risked losing out on business if they did not wish to go along with still higher production rates and sales chief John Leahy pointed out Airbus had two engine suppliers for its single-aisle planes.

“In this business we need to take risks, and I have to educate my partners that when I take risks, these risks are well under control and they have to share that with me,” Bregier added.

Manufacturers did not make any major new product announcements at this year’s show. Airbus said it was still considering whether to re-engine or stretch its A380 superjumbo while Boeing said it had not yet decided on whether to invest in a middle of the market jet to replace its 757.

The new management of smaller plane-maker Bombardier showed off the new CSeries jet for the first time at an air show, but did not win any new orders for the plane, which represents its push to compete in the market for smaller narrow-body jets dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

The Canadian firm had tempered expectations in advance of the show, however, saying it did not expect any orders for the CSeries in Paris. It did, though, announce test results showing the plane performing better than expected.

 

“They need to be getting orders at this stage so they helped brace the market for it, but it’s not good news anyway,” said Espirito Santo Investment Bank analyst Edward Stacey.

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