Boeing flying high in Paris

A Boeing 747 with the official logos of the 47th International Paris Air Show is on display at Le Bourget airport.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bob Moon: The aviation industry's main event is getting off the ground, so to speak, in the suburbs of Paris today. The event is a traditional battleground for the world's two biggest aircraft makers, Europe's Airbus and America's Boeing. Airbus is opening the big air show with announcements of tens of billions of dollars in new aircraft orders. Still, Marketplace's Stephen Beard tells us that Boeing is expected to emerge as the star of the show. Good morning, Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Good morning, Bob.

Moon: So is there any doubt right now who's on top in the aviation world?

Beard: Uh, no. It's pretty clear that Boeing is in the dominant position. It's having a huge success with its new 787 Dreamliner, that's the long-haul midsize plane. Whereas on the other hand, Airbus has been struggling with its planned competitor, the A350, and it's having huge problems with its highest profile product, the A380.

Moon: Yeah those aren't the only problems that Airbus has had lately. You've got the weak dollar, which is making the euro costs more onerous here, the endless bickering between the German and French shareholders of Airbus, all sorts of different problems, I could go on. Will there be any sign this week that Airbus is getting a grip and fighting back here?

Beard: Well Airbus of course is pinning its hopes on this show and in fact this morning with some flourish Airbus revealed that it sold 80 of its A350s to Qatar Airways and it's expected to sell 20 or so to US Airways. But the company has still a long way to go to recover its poise. They may make some headway in Paris this week, but they're unlikely to regain their pole position with Boeing.

Moon: Well let's go beyond this rivalry between Boeing and Airbus here. Are there any other players? What about China? What about Russia?

Beard: Well indeed, there's been a lot of discussion and there will certainly in Paris this week be more discussion about the idea of Chinese and Russian aircraft manufacturers muscling in. They're getting an increasing presence in producing the smaller regional jets. However, the notion that China could produce an airline manufacturer that could rival Boeing and Airbus seems pretty far-fetched. It would require billions and billions of dollars and that money could only come from a government, which as we've seen in the spat between the U.S. and the E.U. over aircraft subsidies would trigger an absolutely stupendous row at the World Trade Organization.

Moon: Marketplace's Stephen Beard with his head in the clouds for good reason for us this morning. Thank you, Stephen.

Beard: Thanks, Bob.

Moon: And in Los Angeles I'm Bob Moon, glad to have you with us this morning.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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