Paris Air Show Opens Amid Titanic Battle Between Airbus And Boeing

Category: Companies / Jun 17, 2013 2:17PM EDT

Big finance waded into a rain-soaked Paris Airshow on Monday (June 17) with more than $10 billion in orders for jumbo passenger jets as plane makers dueled over strategy for large aircraft.

The world's biggest aircraft lessor, a unit of General Electric, became the second buyer to endorse a larger version of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, weeks after the lightweight jet went back into service after a three-month grounding.

The company said it would sign up for 10 of the stretched 787-10 passenger planes, joining a $30 billion order haul that industry sources say Boeing is assembling to formally launch the jet on Tuesday.

And an influential German leasing company, Doric Asset Finance, little known outside the specialist world of aviation financing, splashed out on 20 Airbus A380 superjumbos worth $8 billion at list prices to anticipate rising demand.

Total orders on day one of the world's largest aerospace event swelled to more than $30 billion in three hours.

But, despite the early flurry, the number of orders this year was expected to be down from the last Paris show in 2011.

Record might not be set, but analysts forecast a strong airshow nonetheless, with demand outstripping supply.

"At the beginning of the year we were expecting to see a year in the range of the production levels -- so they would sell as much as they produce. And since that, before the Paris Air Show we were already, at least for Airbus, close to 60 or 70 percent of that amount so a good incentive for them to revisit their forecast upward," said Damien Lasou, the head of Aerospace and Defence for Accenture.

"Same story for Boeing, you know, revisiting upward. Nothing yet a record year but at least a year where the sales will be significantly above the production," he said.

Most attention at the air show, however, focused on a new generation of mid-sized long-range jets, seen as crucial to the future of both companies and their suppliers.

Boeing said last week it sees a $1 trillion market over the next 20 years for mid-sized, twin-engined passenger jets, a category that includes its carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner.

Days after it surprised the industry by making the first flight of its rival A350 before the show, Airbus will attempt a curtain call on Friday with a fly-by for French President Francois Hollande, on only the plane's third test.

Video Credit: Reuters