Paris Air Show 2023: Airbus blows by Boeing on the back of IndiGo‘s order

With IndiGo ordering 500 aircraft, Airbus easily beat its main rival, Boeing, in sales during the Paris Air Show 2023

Airbus has finished the Paris Air Show 2023 ahead of its main competitor, Boeing, with massive orders from Indian airlines reaffirming which market is currently viewed with the most optimism. 

The European Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) overshadowed Boeing during the event, which was packed with massive orders and acrobatic displays from commercial and military aircraft, as well as static displays that delighted every AvGeek. 

Paris Air Shows’ official first day, June 19, 2023, began relatively calmly, but the pace picked up very quickly, staying at a peak over the next few days. 

Airbus securing IndiGo and other crucial aircraft orders 

The first day of the event also marked an important moment in the history of the aviation industry, with India’s IndiGo breaking the record for the largest-ever aircraft order. 

The Indian low-cost carrier ordered 500 Airbus A320neo family aircraft – all firm orders without options. While the airline has still not decided on the exact mix of A320neo and A321neos, it was nevertheless important to secure delivery slots for its growth in the next decade, with delivery of the order set to take place during the 2030s. 

“An order book now of almost 1000 aircraft well into the next decade enables IndiGo to fulfil its mission to continue to boost economic growth, social cohesion and mobility in India,” said Pieter Elbers, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IndiGo. 

Previously, Elbers had hinted that the airline was happy with its existing order book, saying that IndiGo had “a steady flow of planes coming in”. 

Notably, Air India also finalized a major order that the carrier initially announced in February 2023. The newly privatized airline group purchased 140 A320neo, 70 A321neo, 34 A350-1000, and six A350-900 aircraft. 

Other orders throughout the event included Qantas ordering nine additional A220s, Air Mauritius and Philippine Airlines adding A350s, with other low-cost carriers also growing their A320neo family aircraft backlogs. 

While it might not seem large scale, Airbus secured another important order when Avolon, an Ireland-based aircraft lessor, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 20 A330-900neo aircraft. Since the program’s announcement in July 2014, the European plane maker has struggled to sell the type, as evident by only 299 orders for the A330-800neo and A330-900neo, excluding two A330-900neos delivered to Air Belgium via Airbus Financial Services, as of May 31, 2023. 

As such, the 20 orders for the A330-900neo means that the 277 aircraft-strong backlog will grow by 7.2%. The A330-800neo’s backlog hasn’t increased during the event and remains at 12 aircraft, of which Airbus has already delivered seven. 

During the week overall, Airbus secured 821 orders: 500 A320neo family aircraft from IndiGo, 250 various aircraft from Air India, 30 A320neo family aircraft from flynas, 20 from Avolon (an MoU), nine A220 from Qantas, nine A350-1000 from Philippine Airlines, and three A350-900 aircraft from Air Mauritius. 

This figure does not include 25 A321neos from Volaris, as the Mexican low-cost carrier’s order was booked by the manufacturer in October 2022 and listed under an undisclosed airline at the time. 

The manufacturer’s Year-to-Date (YTD) net orders stood at 144 as of May 31, 2023, according to its own Orders & Deliveries data. The data included 50 A321neo and 23 A350-1000 orders from Qatar Airways, which were reinstated once the two sides settled their conflict in February 2023 over premature paint surface degradation of the airline’s A350s. 

Boeing’s steady stream of sales 

Excluding the Air India order, Boeing experienced muted but steady stream of sales at the show, much as it has throughout the whole year. 

The United States (US)-based OEM opened for business on the second day, on June 20, 2023, by announcing that China Airlines had finalized an order for eight 787-9 aircraft. However, the Taiwanese airline had already announced the same deal in May 2023. 

Boeing continued to announce deals, with Air Algerie purchasing eight 737 MAX-9s and two 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF, an MoU), Avolon ordering 40 737 MAXs, Akasa Air buying four 737 MAXs, Luxembourg’s Luxair becoming the launch customer of the 737 MAX-7 (four aircraft), Air Lease Corporation (ALC) adding two 787s to its portfolio, and Nordic Aviation Capital ordering a single 737-800 BCF. 

Additionally, Air India finalized an agreement with Boeing, which was also signed in February 2023. In total, the Indian airline group has bought 240 737 MAX (including 50 options), 40 787 (20 options), and 10 777X aircraft. 

Following the trade event, Boeing’s order book has grown by a total of 230 units, excluding options and BCF orders. Also excluded were Avolon and Air Algerie’s 737 MAX and China Airlines’ 787 aircraft deals, as they had previously been included in the manufacturer’s Orders and Deliveries data, belonging to an unidentified customer(s). 

YTD, excluding deals made during the Paris Air Show, Boeing had booked 223 orders as of May 31, 2023. 

Still, the OEM brought three attention-grabbing products to the show, namely a 737 MAX-10, 777-9X, and Riyadh Air’s first 787-9. While the 737 MAX-10 and 777-9X were present to showcase their capabilities during their flight displays and showcase to customers that they will soon be certified, Riyadh Air continued its aggressive marketing campaign prior to its launch with a demonstrational frame. As confirmed by the Saudi Arabian airline’s CEO Tony Douglas, its first actual aircraft will be delivered in 2025. 

ATR and Embraer also had a fairly calm time at the event, with both manufacturers securing several dozen orders. The former’s backlog grew by 22 aircraft, the latter’s by 28. 

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