New Narrowbodies Rule at Paris Air Show

The first Airbus A320neo for Delhi-based Vistara was delivered last month.

New narrowbodies dominate at Paris this year, as Airbus and Boeing face continue weakness in demand for their “Show”ier widebody jets.

As civil aircraft manufacturers gather for this year’s Paris Air Show, they are receiving mixed demand signals from the market. In spite of the massive drop in new order activity for both Airbus and Boeing since last year, backlogs are still more than healthy and production levels are expanding. IATA has been reporting better than expected traffic figures for the first few months of 2017, indicating that volumes remain resilient for now. But others warn the good times may soon be over.

Short-term growth is still likely, at least for the next 12 to 18 months, said Adam Pilarski, senior VP for Avitas, at the recent ISTAT Asia conference in Hong Kong. But he and other experts in predicted that the peak of the cycle is nigh. Pilarski believes that “long-term problems are mounting and the bubble is expanding.”

“I’m moving away from assuming the bubble will start slowly deflating, to a higher probability of it bursting,” he says

Laurent Delvart, head of Asian aviation for Credit Agricole, noted that a downturn will come. “I’m not a believer in [the theory] that this time will be different,” he said.

The industry achieved “extremely good results” last year, said Delvart. And while it is not necessarily the start of a broader slide, numbers have generally been down in the first quarter of this year. Fuel prices have “not gone up dramatically,” but yields have been lower due to extra capacity coming into the market.

For Boeing, the 2017 Paris air show is a key opportunity to showcase the 737 MAX at a critical time for the program. The company is tipped to use the…

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