As airlines worldwide struggle to survive due to profit-robbing fuel prices, plane manufacturers Airbus and Boeing still expect a good year for fresh orders.
Neither of them will come close to matching the record pace of past three years which saw them combine for over 6,000 jetliner sales. But senior executives of both companies say that 2008 will not be as bad as the industry's recent gloom-and-doom developments may suggest.
Due to skyrocketing fuel prices, the credit squeeze, weakening of economic activity and resulting slowdown in air traffic, the industry is facing a kind of financial disaster not seen since 9/11 terror attacks of 2001.
But Airbus' Chief Operating Officer for customer services John Leahy said the current oil crisis is like a two-edge sword. "Airlines are grounding older, gas-guzzling jets but continue to buy new and more fuel-efficient ones."
Airbus could win 700 to 800 orders this year, he said on the sidelines of Farnborough Air Show being held here from July 14 to 20. The European consortium has a total order book of 1,458 commercial planes.
A senior Boeing executive also told PTI that orders are still likely to be in that range, or about half what they were in 2007 when Boeing won a record 1,423 orders.
"It's a challenging market but we are still seeing good response," he said.
So far, Airbus has won orders for 525 jet planes this year while Boeing has 475. The net figures till June-end include cancellations.