Paris Air Show: Single-aisle jets win out for Boeing, Airbus

A Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Boeing landed the biggest order so far of the Paris Air Show with a deal Tuesday for 100 of its 737s — the single-aisle jets that Boeing’s CEO calls “the heart of the market” in the years to come.

Fighter jets growled and superjumbos soared above the Le Bourget airfield outside Paris, the U.S. Air Force secretary met CEOs, and Mideast and Asian airlines signed multibillion-dollar deals as thousands gathered for the latest edition of the world’s oldest air show.

Boeing and European rival Airbus clocked scores of sales, with particularly intense competition between Boeing’s 737MAX series of planes and Airbus’ 320 family of jets.

Dutch-based leasing company AerCap ordered 100 737MAX-8 planes after long negotiations, Boeing said Tuesday. The deal is worth up to $10.7 billion, though customers routinely negotiate discounts off list prices.

In other Boeing announcements Tuesday:

— the Ireland-based leasing company SMBC Aviation Capital ordered 10 of the 737MAX-8 jets, worth up to $1 billion.

— the Indonesian domestic airline Sriwijaya Air ordered two 737-900 jets, for up to $198 million.

— the Chinese low-cost carrier Rulli Airlines made a commitment to buy 30 planes from the 737 MAX range.

— the Chinese leasing company Minsheng Financial signed a preliminary 737 deal for 30 planes.

Airbus showcased several deals Monday, and on Tuesday announced that Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation signed a firm order for three A320 jets and said Korean Air could buy up to 50 A321neo planes.

Despite Airbus’ modest relatively modest announcements Tuesday, CEO Fabrice Bregier noted “much interest” in the A320neo jets. Speaking to The Associated Press, he predicted that his company would bring in a total of 200 orders and commitments this week.

Companies are believed to save up some order announcements for air shows, or freshen up older deals with new additions to make the air show totals look better.

Russia’s economic troubles clouded the stream of contracts, as Aeroflot announced it was canceling an order for Boeing 787 jets.

Acknowledging that Russia is “a tough market right now,” Boeing CEO Ray Conner said details of the cancellation are still being negotiated but insisted his company would find other customers for the plane.

The conflict in Ukraine and resulting sanctions have hit the Russian economy and limited Russia’s presence at this year’s Paris Air Show.

While Airbus executives predict high demand for jumbo jets like the A380 to serve growing megacities, Conner had the opposite view, calling that “a limited market.”

“We believe the world continues to fragment,” he said. “Nobody wants to hub up, gather and go off from there.”

Boeing is forecasting demand for 38,050 airplanes over the next 20 years and says 26,730 of those will be single-aisle jets. Airbus projects that 32,600 new planes worth a total of $4.9 trillion will be needed by 2034.

Conner said lower oil prices this year isn’t dampening demand for more fuel-efficient models like the 737MAX series. Lower fuel costs save airlines money and “when airlines make money they tend to buy aircraft, which is a great thing.”

The Paris show alternates years with Britain’s Farnborough Air Show as Europe’s premier industry event. Top military officials are joining CEOs and some 300,000 visitors this year at the event, which runs through June 21.

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