Paris Air Show 2023: recovery, emerging powers and decarbonization

The Paris Air Show, back this year after a 4-year absence due to the COVID, demonstrated the excellent health of the sector, as well as the emergence of new powers.

The year is 2020. COVID has grounded aviation worldwide. We’re told that air transport won’t recover for a long time, and won’t return to its former levels in any case, because “we’ll never travel the way we used to”. We are presented with a stricken sector doomed to slow agony.

2023. For over a year now, demand has been so strong that airlines have been unable to keep up, pushing fares to unprecedented levels for a long time to come. In some places, 2019 levels have been reached or even exceeded. Airports are full, and no matter what anyone says, the desire to travel has never been stronger, even and especially among young people.

And if prices are high, it’s for a reason: the airlines don’t have enough planes. Not only because demand is strong, but also because they retired some of their machines during the pandemic, not expecting them to recover so quickly, and the replacement machines they were waiting for are taking a long time to arrive. Indeed, the main aircraft manufacturers, who already had a substantial backlog before COVID, lost months (if not more) of production during the pandemic, and are struggling to increase their production rates (not to mention Boeing’s setbacks with the 777X, 737Max and even 787…).

This was the backdrop to the 2023 Paris Air Show, the first to be held since the end of the crisis, which was closely scrutinized to confirm or deny that the sector is in good health.

Here’s our fast analysis, and at the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of orders placed during the show.

A booming market

It’s no surprise, but things always go better once contracts are signed and confirmed! The market is doing very well and demand is very strong!

But that’s not surprising: between demand at historic levels and a renewal market which exists in favor of more environmentally efficient aircraft and wide-body jets to offset the retirement of four-engine fleets, the outlook is good for several years.

In fact, according to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, demand for aircraft will continue to outstrip supply for another 5 to 6 years. Even before the lounge, both Airbus and Boeing had a backlog of more than 10 years’ worth of orders, so you shouldn’t be in a hurry to be delivered.

Airbus dominates Boeing, but that doesn’t mean anything

821 orders for Airbus, 316 for Boeing! The European aircraft manufacturer wins the match of the aviation giants hands down.

But that’s not saying much. Historically, the European manufacturer has always taken advantage of the Bourget to make its announcements, whereas the symbolism is less important for Boeing. In fact, before the show, Boeing was ahead in terms of orders.

That said, it’s high time Boeing turned the page on the disappointments encountered with the 737 and 787, and the delay of the 777X program, and got back on a positive track.

India out in force as Turkey awaits

The lounge was also an opportunity to see the Indian market emerge. 500 aircraft for Indigo (the largest order in history for a single aircraft model), 540 for Air India (confirmation of an order already announced), 4 for Akasa Air – the Indian airlines put on a show at Le Bourget!

The Indian market is very promising indeed: with a large and growing population, only 5% of whom have ever flown. there’s enormous potential for growth. In fact, the Indian government expects local airlines to add 2,000 aircraft to their fleets within the next 5-7 years.

Another player not mentioned at Le Bourget, but one that should be making news very soon, is Turkish Airlines. The Turkish airline is expected to announce a mega order for 600 aircraft, equally divided between Airbus and Boeing.

If you want to know what will be the trending makets in the next 10 years, you know where to look.

Decarbonation is on a roll

Another major feature of the lounge was the growing importance of sustainable aviation, with orders for Zero Avia (250 hydrogen-powered electric aircraft for Air Cahana) and France’s Aura Aero (electric).

Widerøe has ordered 50 eVTOLS (urban electric aviation).

In the future, it will be interesting to see to what extent electric or hydrogen-powered aviation will become a major focus of the show, or even steal the show from traditional aviation, but it’s clear that this is a fast-growing market of the future.

An industrial production challenge

Accumulating orders is good, but delivering them isn’t bad either. The main challenge now for Airbus, Boeing and their subcontractors is to accelerate the pace of deliveries, since it’s clear that for an airline to order a more efficient aircraft for delivery in 12 years is not necessarily good news.

Today, if the two giants have no competition in the long-haul market, there are alternatives for medium-haul and regional aircraft, and if we can’t imagine Embraer, for example, competing too fiercely with them, we can’t say the same of China’s Comac.

Bottom line

For those who still doubt it, the commercial aviation sector has regained a reassuring momentum that is a pleasure to behold. On the other hand, growth markets have changed, and today it’s India and Turkey that we should be looking to for large orders.

Alongside this, sustainable aviation is gradually making inroads, and there’s every chance that it will play a major role at future editions of the show, in 2 or 4 years’ time.

What do you think? Were you surprised by the volume of orders? By the most active airlines? And do you really think that electric aircraft will become a major niche tomorrow?

Tell us in the comments.

Orders placed at the 2023 Paris Air Show

AirlineManufacturerModelQuantityContract
Indigo (India)AirbusA320Neo500
Flynas (Saudi Arabia)AirbusA320/321XLR30
Air Mauritius (Mauritius)AirbusA3503
Philippine Airlines (Philippines)AirbusA350-10009
China Airlines (Taiwan)BoeingB787-98firm (conversion of options)
BoeingB787-106firm (conversion of 787-9 order)
Air Algérie (Algeria)BoeingB737-98
BoeingB737-8BCF2Memorandum of Understanding
TAAG Angola Airline (Angola)AirbusA220-3004Leasing (Aviation Capital Group )
AirbusA220-3003Leasing (Azorra)
AirbusA220-3002Leasing (NAC)
SalamAir (Oman)AirbusA330Neo3Leasing (Avolon)
Qantas (Australia)AirbusA220-3009
Avolon (leaser)BoeingB737Max40
AirbusA330Neo20Momorendum of understanding
Mandarin Airlines (Taiwan)ATRATR72-6006
Berjaya AirATRATR72-6002
Azul (Brazil)ATRATR72-6003Firm
ATRATR72-6002Options
UnknownATRATR72-6008
UnknownATRATR42-6003
Air India (India)BoeingB737 Max190Order confirmation
BoeingB78720Order confirmation
BoeingB777X10Order confirmation
BoeingB737 Max50Options
BoeingB78720Options
AirbusA320Neo140Order confirmation
AirbusA321Neo70Order confirmation
AirbusA350-100034Order confirmation
AirbusA350-9006Order confirmation
Volaris (Mexico)AirbusA321Neo25Order from October 2022, previously undisclosed
El Al (Israel)BoeingB7872Leasing (Aer Cap)
Azorra (Leaser) (USA)EmbraerE195-E215
Envoy Air (AA) (USA)EmbraerE1757
Binter Canarias (Spain)EmbraerE195-E22
Air Lease Corporation (Leaser)BoeingB7872
Akasa Air (India)BoeingB737-84
Luxair (Luxembourg)BoeingB737-74
Afrijet (Gabon)Aura AeroERA???Memorandum of Understanding
Green Aerolease (Leser)Zero AviaZA600???
Zimex Aviation (Swiss)De Havilland CanadaDHC-6 Twin Otter Classic 300-G2
Asian Aerospace (Philippines)Aura AeroERA3
Air Cahana (USA)Zero AviaZA2000250
Widerøe (Norway)Eve Air Mobility50
Berjaya AirATRATR72-6002
Cyprus Airways (Cyprus)AirbusA220-3002Leasing (ACL)

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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