- Airbus and Boeing secure big orders, but long road to recovery left to travel
Gearing up for pent-up travel demand, the aerospace industry got a sense of what the post-pandemic recovery could look like at the ongoing Dubai Airshow after a horrid year that shattered the bottomline, and brought the world to a standstill.
In the event that was driven by emotion as well as hope that revival is now around the corner, Airbus took a mega-order for 255 single-aisle A321 aircraft on Sunday, it said in a statement, on the first day.
It added that the order came from Wizz Air, Frontier, Volaris and JetSMART — all from US company Indigo Partners — for a total value of more than $33 billion, according to the latest list price published by Airbus in 2018.
The crisis-ridden aviation industry has flocked to the ongoing Dubai Airshow as it emerges from travel restrictions and faces pressure to reduce its impact on climate change.
The five-day event in the UAE is the industry’s first large gathering since Covid-19 last year, when border closures left airports deserted and hundreds of aircraft idle. More than 1,200 exhibitors from 148 countries are taking part, say organisers.
An Airbus official said on the sidelines of the event that within three months of the pandemic over two-thirds of the total aircraft were grounded.
“We are delighted to be here, reconnecting with people,” Francois Caudron, senior vice president marketing at Airbus, told Business Recorder. “During the pandemic, all of us were suffering. We really had to help ourselves to survive.
Caudron is one of the many officials that have set up camp for the airshow in Dubai that features over 20 country pavilions along with a display of 160 commercial, military, and private jets.
“We are in the (midst) of business conversations with many of our customers again, preparing for the future, and selling later-generation aircraft,” said a visibly pleased Caudron.
After major orders for narrowbody jets and a new freighter, Airbus was also seeking a contract for up to 30 A320neo narrowbody jets from Kuwait's Jazeera Airways but the deal was subject to tough last-minute negotiations, delegates said.
Rival Boeing, on the other hand, secured a near $9-billion order from India’s newest airline Akasa Air for 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to build its fleet, it was reported on Tuesday. The order is being seen as a “key endorsement” of the 737 family’s capability to serve the rapidly growing Indian market.
A key theme to the airshow remained climate change, and what the industry could do to play its part in reducing emissions.
Caudron took the time to reiterate that a zero-emission aircraft, announced by Airbus earlier, is the “future of aviation”.
“We are actively working on a zero-emission aircraft powered by hydrogen. This will be a long, exploratory journey. But it is exciting.”
Meanwhile, Honeywell’s Norm Gilsdorf, Senior Vice President Global High Growth Regions, said the aviation industry is going to recover.
“It has to recover,” Gilsdorf told Business Recorder. “This is how businesses connect. It’s a key part of our life. It will be different — we will have to keep people safe.
“And there will be a drive towards more sustainability — in terms of fuel, more efficient planes. It will get back to where it was.”
The aerospace company, which specialises in aerospace products and services found on commercial, defence and space aircraft while providing material to airports as well, also reiterated its commitment to zero carbon-emission by 2035.