PARIS, France - There have only been two commercial orders of note so far for either Airbus or Boeing here at the Paris Air Show. One was Qatar Airways’ firm $1.9 billion order for 24 Airbus planes (new engines are included in that value) from the A320 family.
The showpiece at Le Bourget is a major shop window for aircraft manufacturers.
Vietnam Airlines also placed an order for 16 single-aisle A321 planes and options on two A350 XWB - a plane not yet built and rival to the Boeing 777.
That's it. Nothing has been heard from Boeing yet, though it tends to lag behind the French plane maker when it comes to orders in Paris, where Airbus likes to make a splash in its own backyard.
Both aircraft manufacturers have barely made a dent in their order book this year because new orders are offset by so many airlines delaying - or in some cases outright canceling - orders. Until the show Boeing had no new net orders and Airbus had more than 11 for 2009.
And yet in my interviews with the men who sell the planes, John Leahy of Airbus and Scott Carson of Boeing, show them to be in buoyant mood. One of them even joked to me that there is trouble if they are both of the same mind.
That's because they say new plane orders follow GDP growth - and it looks as if the economic tide is turning. It’s also the case that financing appears to be getting easier to source. Boeing says it has not had to finance as many of its customers as it was prepared to do. But it has been helping airlines find financing when they couldn't.
That too, is getting easier, and since the rationale for newer, lighter, more fuel-efficient planes has not changed, airlines are expected to pick up business replacing fleets once the credit crunch and recession ends.
We have entered the economic twilight zone – where all is not as it seems….and where one day’s good numbers can be a mirage to b e destroyed by the next day’s reality.
We always knew it would come to this – when we would be in that tricky economic area where things are still getting worse – but not as fast. It is like the skier going down the slope who is still descending but slowing down.
Some call it glimmers of hope. Others call it Green shoots – Here we have our QI Traffic lights – where the colour is the sign of what is going on.
We are now clear of the static red – when things were so grim that there was seemingly little hope.
And we have not yet hit that magic area of Green – whether it be weak – it still tells us things are getting better.
We are stuck. Right in the middle. Waiting. With signs suggesting neither one way or the other. Just waiting.
The economic twilight zone – it won’t last forever but that’s where we are today.
Are you in the Twilight zone? And how does it feel?
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