Total firm-order, tentative-commitment and option announcements during the Farnborough air show, at nearly 1,500, outstripped any major air show since Paris 2013, though the number of new firm orders are lower than last year.
While the precise number of new firm orders will not be clear until the dust has settled from the show and all orders resolved against those already in the backlog, preliminary analysis indicates a figure of a little over 200.
Notable factors this year include the more than 400 aircraft covered by tentative deals for unidentified customers. At the same time, potentially as many as 200 of the firm orders announced were unveilings of customers that the airframers had previously booked without attribution.
Lessors, Asian low-cost carriers and narrowbodies again made up a large chunk of the types and customers involved in Farnborough business – at least those that were disclosed. There were also a large chunk of regional-aircraft deals, largely from Embraer. There were relatively slim pickings for passenger widebodies, however, though Boeing enjoyed a pick-up in widebody freighter deals.
US regional carrier Republic Airways, low-cost carrier VietJet, Air Lease, AirAsia X, Uganda Airlines and the still-to-be-named US start-up backed by David Neeleman were among the highest-profile deals revealed during the show.
VietJet signed preliminary deals covering follow-on orders for 150 more narrowbodies – 100 Boeing 737 Max jets and 50 A320neos.
Another Asian low-cost carrier AirAsia had been heavily tipped to do some business at the show; and long-haul, low-cost operation AirAsia X signed for 34 more Airbus A330neos. That adds to its existing order for the type, which it "reconfirmed" at the show, to take its A330neo orders to 100. The follow-on order, again for -900s, was the largest single widebody commitment during the show.
David Neeleman’s US start-up, which he revealed would not adopt its working title of Moxy, struck a preliminary deal for 60 Airbus 220s. This was the show's only commitment for the type, which formally moved into Airbus's ranks at the start of July.
Republic Airways signed an letter of intent for 100 firm Embraer 175s and took options on a further 100, part of commitments for up to 300 aircraft the Brazilian manufacturer unveiled at the show. Customers included another Neeleman project, Azul.
Comac, ATR and Bombardier also all disclosed deals at the show.
Uganda Airlines not only gave Bombardier its only deal of the show by signing for four CRJ900s, but interestingly also signed an MoU for two Airbus A330-800s, the first commitment for the variant since its backlog was wiped out when the only customers cancelled their orders.
Air Lease chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy said the US lessor was "topping off" its Boeing orders in signing for three 787s and 20 737 Max 8s, taking options on a further 55 of the latter.
This was part of a string of commitments from aircraft lessors, which also included Goshawk being disclosed as the customer behind 20-unit narrowbody orders both for Airbus and Boeing. Other lessors signing for new metal included Aviation Capital Group, Jackson Square Aviation, Macquarie AirFinance and Novus Aviation.
A much larger than usual share of business announced at the air show was attributed to undisclosed customers. These mystery shoppers accounted for over 400 aircraft covered by preliminary deals. That compares to 215 at Paris last year – itself a relatively high figure compared with just 30 at Farnborough two years ago.
Aside from five Embraer E2s for an undisclosed Spanish airline, the aircraft covered by deals involving unnamed customers were pretty evenly split between Airbus and Boeing, which logged 204 and 193 respectively.
Government sensitivity over trade relationships, particularly in Asia, was responsible for the high incidence of deals being attributed to undisclosed customers, Airbus says.
Speaking to investors during the event, Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz said: "We don't like undisclosed orders. But we have to respect customers."
Without naming US president Donald Trump directly, Schulz referred to the influence of messages transmitted via social media "from one side of the Atlantic" – and particularly the threats of trade conflict. "That is putting a lot pressure [on] airlines, putting a lot of pressure [on] governments," says Schulz. "And some of our customers have asked us not to fuel the [trade war] and all of these things."
Airbus at the end of the show flagged 431 commercial commitments, including 93 firm orders. Boeing counted a total to 673 during the show, which includes 145 aircraft already in the backlog as unattributed. Preliminary analysis suggests that this leaves Boeing matching Airbus with 93 new firm commitments struck at the show. Embraer led the way among regional players in show business, announcing 37 firm orders and over 300 commitments in total.
Source: Cirium Dashboard