The Paris Air Show takes off with the largest aircraft order ever

  • India’s IndiGo enters into agreement for 500 Airbus jets
  • Jet manufacturers face supply challenges to meet strong demand
  • Defense also in focus at the first Paris exhibition in 4 years

PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) – Airbus ( AIR.PA ) announced a record 500-plane deal with Indian carrier IndiGo ( INGL.NS ) on day one of the Paris Airshow on Monday, as strong demand for jets and missiles vied for attention with the industry’s supply chain problems.

The multibillion-dollar deal for the one-off aircraft – the largest ever by aircraft count – confirmed a Reuters report earlier this month, eclipsing Air India’s tentative purchase of 470 Airbus and Boeing ( BA.N ) jets earlier this year.

The world’s biggest air show, which alternates with Farnborough in the UK, is at Le Bourget for the first time in four years after the 2021 edition fell victim to the pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron flew into the packed space bazaar by helicopter and watched a flying display including Airbus’ latest jet development, the A321XLR, and air power including the French Rafale fighter jet.

On the civil side, aircraft manufacturers arrived with rising demand expectations as airlines rush for capacity to meet demand and help meet industry targets of net zero emissions by 2050.

But they also face a challenge to meet that demand as suppliers grapple with rising costs, parts shortages and a lack of skilled labor in the wake of the pandemic.

Industry executives say as many as 2,000 jet orders are available worldwide in a resurgent commercial jet market, on top of those already tentatively announced, as airlines try to fill a void left by sharp drops in activity during the COVID crisis.

Only a fraction of those potential fresh deals will be ready in time for this week’s air show, which could see a mix of new and repeat announcements, they said.

IndiGo’s deal highlights the growing importance of India, the world’s fastest growing aviation market, serving the largest population, to aircraft manufacturers.

“This is just the beginning, there is more to come. With the growth of India (and) the growth of the Indian aviation market … this is the right time for us to place this order,” IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers told a news conference.

In another key market, Airbus said Saudi low-cost carrier flynas had confirmed an order for 30 of its A320neo family narrow-body aircraft, confirming a Bloomberg report.


The air show takes place in the shadow of the conflict in Ukraine, with no Russian presence in the cabins and exhibition halls, unlike the previous event four years ago.

Some Ukrainian officials and aerospace companies were expected to be present at the fair.

On the defense side, Belgium said it would apply to join as an observer the potential successor to the Rafale and the multinational Eurofighter, the Franco-German-Spanish FCAS fighter jet project, despite disagreements among industrial partners over whether to expand the project.

France’s Thales ( TCFP.PA ) also announced a contract from Indonesia for 13 long-range air surveillance radars.

Looking ahead to the rest of the show, Airbus is expected to confirm that Qantas ( QAN.AX ) is exercising options for nine more A220s, as announced by the airline this year.

The plane maker is also close to a potentially large order for narrow-body aircraft from Mexican low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus, industry sources said on Sunday.

The number of planes discussed was more than 100, they said, but by Monday some sources said the number in the final deal could be closer to 60.

The Mexican airline has long been a fierce battleground between Boeing and Airbus.

Reporting by Tim Hepher, Joanna Plucinska, Allison Lampert and Valerie Insinna Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Joanna Plucinska

Thomson Reuters

Joanna reports on airlines and travel in Europe, including tourism trends, sustainability and politics. She was previously based in Warsaw, where she covered politics and general news. She wrote stories about everything from Chinese spies to migrants stranded in forests along the Belarusian border. In 2022, she spent six weeks covering the war in Ukraine, focusing on the evacuation of children, war reparations and evidence that Russian commanders knew about sexual violence by their troops. Joanna graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2014. Before joining Reuters, she worked in Hong Kong for TIME and later in Brussels reporting on EU technology policy for POLITICO Europe.

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