I’ve attended every Farnborough Airshow since 1962. As the youngest in a family of five who all worked for British Airways (or rather BEA and BOAC in those days), the smell of kerosene and the sound of Rolls-Royce Dart/Avons/Speys was part of my nurturing.
So, moving on half a century, I do ask myself, “Do I need to go this year?” and, “What is in it for me?” Additionally, given we were all expecting a quieter show, more people were asking: “How important are the OEM order announcements?”
It isn’t necessarily only what goes on at the show, it is the sideshows, the receptions and meetings in London. In a global industry it’s a great excuse to catch up. Most OEMs use London venues to continue the networking. Our week started on Sunday with a round of golf with clients and when I look at my contact and “must follow up” list for the week it contains enough leads for another month to explore. So it’s not just the OEM orders that drive interest in the show, but the orders for IBA and all the other interested parties.
So in answer to my self-posed question of “What’s in it for me?” I can honestly say there is plenty in it for me – both personally and professionally. Taking a few of my Grandkids to the Friday “Learning Day” was a highlight, as were the fighter jets which, despite IBA’s focus on the commercial market, are still thrilling to experience.
So what actually happened at the show this year? Expectations had been well managed by the OEMs pre-show. 305 firm orders were placed along with 294 Letters of Intent/Memorandum of Understanding and 135 options.
The narrowbody aircraft segment dominated the order split obtaining 74% of share with the likes of Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo aircraft. This was followed by the regional segment with the likes of COMAC ARJ21 and Mitsubishi MRJ aircraft, obtaining 18% of the share. Orders for widebody aircraft were significantly lower, coming in at 46 aircraft (6%).
The A320 was the winner of the week in volume terms and though widebody orders were slow, albeit boosted by the 20 747-F orders, the sector itself faces some intriguing dynamics around a cut back in A380 production while stretched versions of the 777-10X and A350-1000 are mooted.
In terms of “bang for the buck”, our prize goes to MRJ as they are showing signs of getting to a reasonable interest and a spread of airlines and lessors with the announcement of the 10+10 order from Scandinavian lessor Rockton just a few months after the US lessor Aerolease ordered 10+10 LoI and options. Given the deliveries are still two years away, we hope to see more direct sales to airlines and note that Iran continues to attract interest.
The engine guys were battling it out – LEAP versus geared turbofan (GTF), and from our discussions it seems the fix for the GTF is making its way to the production line.
Despite the breadth of OEMs in attendance this year, there is always the constant anticipation and emphasis on Airbus’ and Boeing’s respective performances. This year on an overall metric, Airbus accrued more orders than Boeing. By segment, Airbus performed better in the narrowbody segment gaining more neo orders whilst Boeing performed better in the widebody segment. Airbus received orders/interest from all continents whilst Boeing did not receive any orders from Latin America or the Middle East.
Let’s see what happens next year at the Paris Airshow – we always predict a home win for Airbus at that one!