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            september 22, 2019

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Busworld 2019

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Dark clouds over Paris air show over grounding of 737 Max


The Paris Air Show is being held against a backdrop of uncertainty over a Boeing jet and apprehension about the global economy hovering over the aircraft industry, reports the Washington Post.
The air show and its alternating-years companion, the Farnborough, are usually upbeat celebrations of the latest and greatest in aviation technology. In recent boom years, they have become a stage for huge aircraft orders.
But this year the mood is different with the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max after finding that new flight software played a role in two deadly plane crashes. There is no clear date for when it might fly again.
In addition, there are other troubling signs for the industry. After several years of surging growth, passenger traffic in March grew at the weakest rate in nine years, although April was slightly better. The chief of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) blamed a slowing global economy and damage from tariffs and trade fights.
Air cargo shipments - considered a leading economic indicator - fell 4.7 per cent in April, continuing a slump that began in January and could dent demand for air freighters.
Airlines, on the other hand, have committed to buy so many planes that Boeing now has a backlog of 5,500 orders and Airbus has 7,200 - far higher than usual. Airlines might not have much appetite for more.
"There is a lot to be concerned about," said Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia. "It might make for kind of a grim Paris show."
Heading into the show, Boeing and Airbus have reported much weaker orders this year. Boeing received no orders in May after getting just one in April. Deliveries of completed jets tumbled 56 per cent last month as it stopped shipping new Max jets. Airbus saw an increase in deliveries, but it reported just one new order last month.
With so many of its airline customers and suppliers at the air show, Boeing will be under pressure to provide an update on the Max's expected return to flying, and how quickly after that Boeing can increase production. The company cut Max production in mid-April from a rate of 52 planes a month to 42.
Boeing has struggled to get a handle on the Max controversy.
Airbus executives said the Max crashes didn't affect their own strategy for the air show. "What has happened with the Max ... doesn't change the way to talk to customers," Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said.
There is widespread expectation in aviation circles that Airbus will use the air show to officially launch a new plane, the A321XLR, a long-range version of its popular A320 family, which could set off several plot twists in the competition between Boeing and Airbus.
American Airlines is considering the plane as a replacement for its fleet of aging Boeing 757 jets, according to Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for American declined to comment.
If a US airline like American - the biggest carrier in the world - steps forward as an early buyer of a plane from Boeing's European rival, it will make a big splash.

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