For an industry urgently searching for green shoots, the well-trodden aisles and asphalt of the Paris air show may not be the best place to find them.

Paris's sheer size and status mean the event will have as many exhibitors as ever and retain much of its buzz, especially in this, its centenary year. But there will be little in the way of order announcements, programme milestones or aircraft debuts. Tumbleweed, say cynics, may be more in evidence than seedlings.

You do not have to look hard for signs of gloom either. Many believe airframers are delaying publishing realistic demand-based production plans because they are in denial about the depth of the downturn or because they want to avoid panic and political backlash. Either way, it skirts close to misleading shareholders.

And, while the health of the big players makes headlines, it is the supplier community - the backbone of shows like Paris - where the agony is really being felt. OEMs are cutting orders, screwing down prices and taking work in-house to avoid redundancies.

But like an ageing, weary Moulin Rouge dancer taking to the stage again, next week will see Paris slap on the facepaint, don its glad rags and smile its widest smile as aerospace companies do their utmost to persuade us all that things are getting betteror at least not any worse. After a grim 12 months, the industry needs a tonic. So let's all enjoy the show.

Source: Flight International