This year’s Farnborough air show was bookended by notable Boeing 737 Max orders from Delta Air Lines and Qatar Airways, as the US airframer secured well over half the new aircraft commitments disclosed during the event.
Delta Air Lines placed a firm order for 100 CFM Leap-1B powered Max 10s and took options on 30 more of the type. The order was notable because Boeing had until now not secured Delta, a current 737NG operator, as a 737 Max customer. It has now sold the Max to all major US airlines – the others being American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
The US carrier also gave Airbus its first order of the show with a follow-on deal for a dozen more A220-300s.
Qatar Airways meanwhile ordered 25 Boeing 737 Max 10s and took options on a further 25 of the jets.The order follows an announcement in January that the Gulf airline had signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing to acquire the 737 Max on the back of Airbus’s cancellation of a deal for 50 A321neos.
These formed part of a strong show of activity from Boeing, which announced 267 new firm or tentative orders and options at the event. The vast majority of these – 258 – were for the Max.
Lessor Aviation Capital and investment firm 777 Partners signed for a dozen Max 8s and up to 66 Max 8s, respectively. The 777 Partners deal, which includes a firm order for 30 Max 8-200s, will take its backlog for the Max to as many as 134 aircraft.
The remaining nine Boeing order commitments were for 787s. That includes five more for AerCap – taking its Dreamliner commitments to 125 – and a memorandum of understanding for four additional 787-8s from Azerbaijan Airlines.
The two Dreamliner orders were the only new widebody deals announced during Farnborough, though Boeing also announced Cargolux has selected its new 777-8 as its “preferred solution” to replace 747-400 freighters.
All told, around 60% of new business announced during the show went to Boeing.
In a quiet show for Airbus, the manufacturer secured a follow-on order for 17 A321neos from LATAM Airlines and confirmation of EasyJet’s plan to order another 56 A320neo-family aircraft, which the low-cost carrier had outlined in June.
Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer was relaxed about the lack of order announcements. “If you are asking ‘where are the Airbus announcements?’, I remind you… that we have clicked way past 500 orders so far this year and we’re quite satisfied with that,” he states.
“We don’t need to make a lot of noise. We can do business quietly. That’s what we’re doing,” he says.
Regional aircraft business
On the regional front, there was fair amount of order activity from both ATR and Embraer
Embraer notched orders for 28 aircraft and 13 options from two North American carriers. Alaska Air Group placed an order for eight E175 aircraft as well as the 13 options. The aircraft will fly exclusively for Alaska Airlines under a capacity purchase agreement with regional subsidiary Horizon Air. It already operates 30 E175s.
Porter Airlines meanwhile ordered 20 of Embraer’s new-generation E195-E2 aircraft. It takes the Canadian regional carrier’s orders for the type to 50 firm and 50 options.
ATR followed a tentative deal from Japanese start-up Feel Air for up to 36 ATR turboprops by securing commitments for 10 ATR 72-600s from newly formed leasing platform Abelo.
Abelo was formed out of the merger of Elix with Adare Aviation Capital. It signed a heads-of agreement covering 10 ATR 72-600s, deliveries of which begin next year. It also reaffirmed a commitment for 10 short take-off and landing versions of ATR 42-600s previously made by Elix.
Gabonese carrier Afrijet ordered another ATR 72-600, while Japanese operator Oriental Air Bridge signed for an ATR 42-600.
Quiet show for orders
While there were plenty of order announcements, overall it was the quietest show for many years, with 441 new aircraft commitments.
They included 297 firm orders, a dozen of which – from Aviation Capital – were previously logged by Boeing to an undisclosed customer, as well as 40 preliminary commitments and 104 options.
That compares with almost 1,500 at the last Farnborough air show in 2018.
In contrast to recent years, almost half of this year’s order activity came from mainline operators. More recently, the bulk of aircraft order announcements made at major air shows have come from aircraft lessors and low-cost carriers.