CSeries order intact, says Republic; CFM offered “great incentives” for engine deal

Bombardier’s CSeries order with Republic Airways Holdings, announced today at the Paris Air Show, is intact, says the company spokesman.

Peter Kowalchuk told us late Wednesday (Paris time) that there is no change in the CSeries order, despite the Airbus one announced today for 40 A320neos and 40 A319neos. First delivery, of the A319neo, is in 2016.

The first CSeries is scheduled for delivery in 2015.

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Odds and Ends at the Paris Air Show, Day 2

Odds and Ends at the Paris Air Show, Day 2

Airbus

Airbus owned the day again with a bunch of orders, including capturing a Boeing 737 operator, Garuda Indonesia. For the A320neo (In this context, we’re not counting SAS, which already operates A320s.) Up to now, Boeing has been dismissing the sales of the neo as being only to A320 airlines, as well as winning deals on price and asserting the neo only brings the airplane to “parity” with the 737-800. Airbus’ John Leahy, COO-customers, counters that airlines aren’t buying Boeing’s line and are buying the neo because it is more efficient than the 737-800. So, it would seem, lessors are also convinced. ILFC previously ordered the aircraft. Air Lease Corp, CIT Aerospace and GECAS also placed orders.

The ALC order could be considered particularly significant. Its CEO, Steven Udvar-Hazy, previously was cool to the neo and now placed a bet for 50 of them.

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Qatar’s CEO on A350, CSeries

Qatar Airways was the launch customer of the Airbus A350-1000, for which Airbus has now moved entry-into-service back from 2015 to 2017 in order to provide for a higher-thrust engine design from Rolls-Royce, increased payload and increased range.

John Leahy, Airbus COO, said Saturday at the EADS media day, that all delays for the -1000 and the -800, which is also seeing an EIS adjustment from 2014 to 2016, were “consensual” with the customers.

This makes comments by Akbar Al-Baker, Qatar’s CEO, all the more interesting. Al-Baker was at a Boeing press conference to announce the order of six 777-300ERs. In the Q&A, he was asked about the A350-1000. His response from the recording we made:

Q. How does the performance of the revised A350-1000 compare to the 777?

Al-Baker: …We have great confidence in Boeing, they have the finest products in the range of the Triple 7 type. As far as the A350s are concerned, it is still a paper airplane. The proof is in the pudding. The Triple 7 is already flying. It is doing fantastic. It is reaping us huge benefits. I would not like to talk about the Dash 1000 at the moment until I have been properly briefed by Airbus and of course I will critique that product when I have been given more details, as I do not have them. It would be unfair for me to sit her and criticize the competitor’s product, especially since we are the launch customer.

Q. I know you don’t want to talk about the A350-1000 in detail, but could you give us any reaction at all to the delay? Is that going to pose a significant problem for you?

A. Yes, we are hearing rumors that the aircraft will have significant delay. This will dent our expansion and fleet replacement program. As CEO of an airline, it would never make me happy that one of the programs we are so dependent on is getting delayed. This is very disappointing to us. We hope that the performances they are today talking about is the right information and it will do what Airbus says they are intending to do.

Qatar has also been a key target to order the Bombardier CSeries. Expectations were high at the Farnborough Air Show last year that Qatar would do so and when it didn’t, BBD suffered huge negative press. Expectations have been that the order was likely ready to go at this show. We learned shortly before the show that there would be no order.

We caught up to Al-Baker immediately after the Boeing press conference ended and had this exchange:

Q. Could tell me what your approach to the CSeries right now. It seems to be on and off, on and off, on and off.

A. No, the CSeries, we have just deferred our decision because we have so many airplanes coming one after the other within the same time, so we have deferred it. We still have confidence in the CSeries. We feel it is a very fine airplane. We have not changed our mind, we have just deferred the decision until  not too long in the future.

Q. How long? Three months, five months?

A. I don’t know. We still are quite busy with what is in the pipeline, but we are still very keen. I assure you that the CSeries is an extremely fine airplane in its category of aircraft.

Odds and Ends of the Paris Air Show, Day 1

Odds and Ends of the Paris Air Show, Day 1

The Air Show began with heavy downpour that delayed traffic and buses, but fortunately not us since we didn’t stay in the City—but rather just 5km up the road. Nonetheless, we got soaked. Yet the rains couldn’t dampen the spirit of either Boeing or Airbus—or the wiseacre at the Show who played the theme song from the old movie, “Singin’ in the Rain” during one of the periodic cloud bursts.

For Boeing, rain notwithstanding, Monday was a very good day for the company. It received 17 orders for the slow-selling 747-8 (15 from one airline), customers unidentified. Boeing also announced orders for the other 7-Series airplanes except the 767. The various order announcements may be found on the Boeing website.

Contrast this to the Paris Air Show in 2009 (Paris runs in odd years, Farnborough in even years). On the Monday and Tuesday, officials vowed the 787 would have its first flight by the end of June. On
Tuesday evening, these officials were called back to Seattle to deal with the fact the test pilots would not fly the airplane because the wing-to-body join was not up to snuff. A few days after the air show ended, the company called off the first flight, to great embarrassment. It was six months before the airplane flew.

At this air show, Boeing has one 787, two 747s, a 737 with the Sky Interior inspired by the 787 and a 777-200LR. This represents the technology The Boeing Co. is known for and the achievements that can be had.

Boeing started the air show with a bang (figuratively). The remaining days should be good as well.

Airbus

If Boeing started the show with a figurative bang, Airbus did literally. The big A380 scraped a wingtip on a building after airport controllers sent them down what turned out to be an incorrect taxiway. The A380 was beached for the first day and probably a few more. This came on the heels of the A400M scrubbing its aerobatics because another test plane had an engine problem. The best aerial display (to us, anyway) was the flight demonstration of the Breitling L-1049 Constellation.

But Airbus began with 100 orders for its A320neo from GECAS and Air Lease Corp., putting COO John Leahy well on the way toward the 600 orders for the airplane that was his goal by the end of the air show. We think it possible he’ll be much closer to 700.

Bombardier

The other manufacturer that has been in the focus is Bombardier. Following a long draught in orders, BBD racked up two in the week before the air show and a third Monday. Two of the three are Unidentified, but now BBD has 113 firm orders and almost as many options. BBD also said today’s customer will be the launch operator.

Rain, rain go away—a rail strike is coming

Buzz among journalists today is that a one-day rail strike is planned for tomorrow. Traffic to and from Le Bourget is bad enough on a good day. Rain makes it worse and a rail strike will paralyze the roads. Except for us. Taxis get to use dedicated bus lanes and we should be at the air show tomorrow in 10 minutes, strike or no strike. The US should take a cue on the dedicate bus lanes. But in typically Washington/Puget Sound fashion, nobody can make a decision let alone one in a timely fashion without some nitwit launching an initiative to reverse the decision.

AirInsight has been doing a running commentary on Monday’s air show events.

Odds and ends on the final pre-Air Show day

 Odds and Ends from the Paris Air Show

  • While an order or two are expected to come from Qatar Airways’ mercurial CEO Akbar Al-Baker, the buzz here already is that U-Turn Al may yet again live up to his nickname. It’s been widely expected that he would, at long last, order the Bombardier CSeries, but Al-Baker is renowned in aviation circles for embarrassing OEMS. He’s done it to Bombardier, Airbus and Boeing and has flipped-flopped in his praise-criticism-praise for the CSeries and the A320neo. For Boeing, it was a major embarrassment when at the Farnborough Air Show in 2008 Boeing issued a press release announcing Qatar ordered the 777 only to rescind it hours later (even though it was correct) at Al-Baker’s insistence. Neither did he show up for the 787 roll-out even though Qatar’s logo was displayed in the roll-call of tail logos and a chair was reserved with his name on it. While Al-Baker recently trashed-talked the A320neo, word now is that he will place an order for the airplane (with CFM LEAP engines, maybe?) for a new Qatar leasing company. He has been feuding with Pratt & Whitney, and if he by-passes the GTF for the A320neo, this could mean PW hasn’t bent over to his demands—and the CSeries could suffer as a result.

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Boeing 737 re-engine studies very much alive

Boeing officials like to downplay the prospect of re-engining the venerable 737, but studies are very much alive as the company tries to figure out what the market wants and how to respond to the Airbus A320neo.

Boeing has shifted focus on re-engine studies despite already having a solution, officials said during a pre-Paris Air Show media briefing.

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Paris Air Show outlook

There are several items looking at the Paris Air Show outlook:

AirInsight had a live discussion Friday with Addison Schonland, Richard Aboulafia and Ernie Arvai hosting it. The transcript is here.

AirInsight also published a lengthy written preview of what to expect from all the major airframe and engine OEMs here.

Here’s a short-take on Airbus at the show.

Pre-Paris Air Show discussion and AirInsight preview

AinInsight will host a live pre-Paris Air Show discussion Friday, with guest Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. Sign up to participate here.

Also look for AirInsight’s Paris Air Show preview next week. We historically have done air show previews here but this year we’re combining our thoughts with our partners, Ernie Arvai and Addison Schonland at AirInsight. AirInsight will go down the airframe and engine OEMs with our outlook for orders and announcements.

Addison and I will be at the air show, providing daily coverage. I’m also attending the Boeing pre-air show briefings this week (with news embargoed to June 19); and the EADS/Airbus media day June 18, at which there will be an A350 briefing that had been scheduled for May 31 but was postponed to the media day.

Just a hint of AirInsight’s preview next week: we’re expecting Airbus to announced and firm up several hundred orders for the A320neo and more A380 orders; Boeing may have some 747-8I orders ready to announce; Bombardier should have more CSeries orders; CFM will get its first LEAP-X orders on the neo (and these will be large numbers) while Pratt & Whitney will continue to add to the GTF book; Embraer won’t announce a new airplane and neither will Boeing; ATR (an EADS company) will have a nice turbo-prop order; and we expect a major announcement from Rolls-Royce.

Odds and ends: More on DC-7B trip

Here are some more photos from our DC-7B trip. All photos by Scott Hamilton.

PBY

This PBY Catalina, a derelict but intact condition, is at the San Juan Airport. Given the loss of a PBY several years ago in a landing accident, could this become a new, restored edition?

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Tariffs won’t be assessed in WTO Airbus, Boeing cases

The decision is in on the appeal of the WTO panel decision in the Airbus and pending on the WTO’s panel findings on Boeing.

The “what’s next” is dispute resolution and, failing this, the prospect of imposing tariffs on Airbus and Boeing airplanes.

This won’t happen. Why? It’s simple: too much is at stake. Neither company wants a trade war.

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