Is the market for new airliners drying up or are aerospace rivals Boeing and Airbus just squirreling away orders now to announce with a big fanfare at aerospace’s biggest fete of the year, the Farnborough International Airshow?
The usual weekly and monthly order announcements from both plane manufacturers have disappeared in recent weeks, and airlines themselves have been strangely silent about making public new orders.
Airbus has announced just 95 net new orders through April. Boeing has announced 418 net orders through last week, but the vast majority of those orders came in two big increments, a 230-plane order from Indonesia’s Lion Air and a 122-plane order from Norwegian. Both those orders were for Boeing’s single-aisle 737.
Other big orders may be waiting in the wings. Third-hand reports have been circulating for weeks about a possible 100-plus United plane order for Boeing’s 737, a 50-aircraft order from Air Asia for Airbus’ A320neo, a 10-plane order for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner from Lion Air of Indonesia and a 100-plane order from India’s Jet Airways for Airbus aircraft.
Boeing in the recent past has said it doesn’t accumulate orders to make a splash at the big airshows in Farnborough and Paris (the shows alternate years), but it’s hard to stand by with a few small order announcements when your competitor is boasting how many hundreds of new orders it has developed.
Perhaps the paucity of orders reflects either a new cautiousness in the airline industry brought about by the world’s halting recovery from the global recession or a shortage of available delivery slots for aircraft.
Both Boeing and Airbus are booked up for years with existing orders. Boeing is continuing to increase its production rates to open up new availabilities for new orders.