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Plane-maker Airbus cashes in at Paris Air Show

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Kai Ryssdal: The European plane-maker Airbus has been trouncing rival Boeing at the Paris Airshow this week. Airbus announced the biggest single order for commercial aircraft ever today — 200 planes. So far this week it’s got firm orders in hand for almost 600 new planes, compared to Boeing’s rather measly score of 47.

From the European Desk in London, Stephen Beard sent this report.

Tom Enders: I would just like to say that we at Airbus are extremely proud to be Air Asia’s partner.

Stephen Beard: The sound of a plane maker on Cloud Nine. Airbus chief Tom Enders has just sold a record 200 narrow-bodied jets to a fast growing Malaysian carrier. He sold another 180 planes to an Indian airline yesterday.

Aviation analyst John Strickland says Airbus has certainly stolen a march on Boeing.

John Strickland: The Asian market is one of the strongest growing markets in the world, so the manufacturers want to be in there getting as big orders as they can.

Airbus clinched today’s deal by installing a far more fuel efficient engine on an existing plane, the A320. Boeing meanwhile is still pondering whether to do the same and upgrade its 737 jet or to build a completely new aircraft. But that would take time. Today’s deal, says Strickland, shows that some airlines can’t wait.

Strickland: It really underlines the pressure, which is on all airlines around the world at the moment — to find ways of cutting the cost of operation, namely the use of fuel given the expected long-term increase in the price of aviation fuel.

Boeing, says aviation consultant Mike Boyd, has missed a trick with the airlines.

Mike Boyd: The reality of it is that anything that says it’s going to save fuel, they’re going to buy. Boeing is now way behind the curve.

He says Boeing will have to move fast to avoid falling way behind its old rival Airbus.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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