6/28/2011

Paris Air Show 2011

That was quite an event! I will focus on just some of the most important topics here, the most important of course being

A320NEO
1029 order and commitments! (plus a few more options) - Never ever in history there was an aircraft selling so fast. Of course, a comparison to the B737NG is unfair, as 15 years ago we did not have such big and emerging markets in China, India and all over Asia (more than 460 A320neos are ordered by Asian airlines so far). Also I am sure that a reengined B737NG or a NSA/B797 would sell as good as the A320NEO (or in the case of the – hypothetical – B797 even better). But let us roll back one year: there were many skeptics of the A320neo, saying that demand for such a “warmed-up” aircraft would just not be there. Others said that Airbus might be forced to convert many of the orders for the current A320 to the –neo model. Both are proved wrong today. Even Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes did not manage to convince John Leahy to convert some of the old orders to the –neo.
Now if American Airlines would really decide to order 100 A320neo (probably they are most interested in the A321neo) this summer, there would be lots of activities starting in Chicago and Seattle.
The A320neo brings us right away to the next big topic at this year’s Airshow.

LEAP-1A vs. PW1100G
Before I get started, please read what Addison Schonland wrote in his piece on AirInsight. As I laid out before I have my doubts about the performance claims of the LEAP-1A. And as I heard, CFM did more PW1100G-bashing at his media briefing just ahead of the Airshow than talking about their own product and it’s merits. A rock solid confidence looks different…
Nevertheless, CFM managed to get large deals at the Airshow. The largest, of course, was the order for 400+ engines for the 200 aircraft deal of AirAsia. But this was CFM’s to loose, as they are providing the CFM56 for the current 175 aircraft order from AirAsia, GE won with the CF6-80 for AirAsia’s A330-200 just recently and GE became a sponsor of Tony Fernandes F1 Lotus Team.
I did a prediction about A320neo orders and the respective engine choices just a week before the Airshow opened. I was wrong at SAS and Republic – both choose the LEAP-1A over the PW1100G. As it appears, I underestimated the market power of CFM, GE and GECAS.
I also expressed before that I think there could be an alliance between Airbus and CFM to keep potential CSeries customers away from ordering the Bombardier aircraft by giving them deals they cannot deny. This strategy can work with airlines which have business with CFM, GE and/or GECAS today.
Look at Republic: the whole Frontier fleet is powered by the CFM56 today - about half of the A319 fleet from Frontier is leased through GECAS.
Republic has the largest Embraer EJet fleet in the world, all powered by the CF34-8/-10. Most of the E170 in the fleet of Republic Airlines, one of Republics subsidiaries, is leased from GECAS.
So GECAS, CFM and GE have all possibilities to sweeten the LEAP-1A deal with discounts on spare parts and leasing rates – one thing that Pratt&Whitney can not do.
SAS on the other hand is a large B737NG customer and they also have a CRJ900 fleet powered by the CF34-8. They choose 2nd hand B737-700 over the CSeries earlier this year. This decision was probably more cash driven, as leasing rates for used aircraft are of course cheaper than for new ones and SAS is going through a tough time right now. SAS has also A319 and A321’s in their fleet, powered by the IAE V2500. But firstly the V2500 powered fleet is much smaller than the B737NG fleet, and secondly, PW always has to deal with Rolls Royce on the V2500 business. And as RR has no stakes at all in the –neo business, they have no interest in building a bridge for PW at all.
One A320neo deal that did not materialize in Paris was the anticipated order for 50 aircraft from Qatar (as well as the “deferred” CSeries order). The A320neo will come one day of the other, just as U-Turn Al’s mood allows, but I guess the chances for the PW1100G are better here.  Although GE can throw their GGE90-115B business on the B777-300ER/-200LR fleet here (Qatar just ordered 6 more of them in Paris) and CFM powers 4 A340-300 in Qatar’s fleet, the A320 fleet is powered by the V2500 and PW might to persuade Qatar by making good deals on both the CSeries and the A320neo.

CSeries
John Leahy still thinks that Bombardier should scrap the CSeries program. As an Airbus employee he has to say that, regardless of what he thinks.
But as in the weeks before and at the Airshow there were five new customers announced (three of them unnamed so far), I think it became clear  that a growing number of airlines got convinced that in this market segment an optimized aircraft is better suited than, say an A319neo. Surprisingly, the CS100 got the biggest chunk of the new orders – maybe something to think about at Embraer…
I guess we will see a few other orders for the CSeries until the end of the year:
- Delta Air Lines
- Qatar (finally)
- GoAir, which just ordered 72 A320neo, hinted for a “raft” of CSeries soon to order

Boeing
Boeing did not raise the bar very high in the run-up of the Airshow, but did extremely well with orders, especially on the widebody front. It remains to be seen, if the revised A350-1000 can break the monopoly the B777-300ER enjoys in their segment. A stretched A350-1100X was denied by Airbus officials, but we will see…if the Rolls Royce managers are wise, they build in another 5% thrust margin above the 97klbf in their revised Trent XWB nacelle lines to cover for growth.
Scott Hamilton further explains Boeing’s success – I suggest to read his entry for more.

Other stuff
There was lots of other stuff to talk about – but I won’t, at least for today…

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