A record 200-plane order from Asia’s largest budget carrier looks set to dominate a jackpot of deals at next week’s Paris Air Show in clear evidence of a multi-speed recovery shaping global industry, sources said.
While Western powers display military hardware that their armies can no longer guarantee to buy, all eyes at the world’s largest air show will be on civil demand from growth-hungry Asia which has supplanted North America as the busiest travel market.
The roughly $17 billion deal from Malaysia’s AirAsia for revamped Airbus A320 jets is seen as the centrepiece of an industry show once again buzzing with orders.
Sources close to the deal, which is still being finalised, said AirAsia was expected to beat a record for the largest number of planes sold in one contract, even before a recent 180-plane order from India’s IndiGo is formally signed.
Boeing has not yet decided whether to copy Airbus in putting new engines on its popular 737 plane. Other customers expected to sign up for the revamped A320neo are India's Go Air with 72 planes and US leasing giant GECAS.
The 150-seat A320 and 737 narrowbody planes are the biggest segment of the market and a cash cow for both Airbus and Boeing.
Meanwhile, the two companies are involved in another strategy battle over the market for 350-seat wide-body twinjet planes like the Boeing 777 and A350.
Boeing’s new 747-8, the world’s longest airliner, is one of the stars of this year’s show.