By Bikram Vohra
On the hottest day in British history with the temperature crossing an unprecedented 40 degrees it was not easy covering the 40 miles from London to Farnborough. Ergo a quieter day and one for introspection as Airbus picked up orders for its 320neos and Boeing kicked with the possibility of Qatar Airways considering 25 737 Max even as the legal wrangle over corrosion continues with Airbus. It is also seeking to add more 777X aircraft to its widebody fleet once certified. The Toulouse consortium is now looking at easyjet for at least 56 narrowbodies, most likely the A220 being central to this deal.
Even as the warning sounded by Brazil’s Embraer of the need to patch up splintered supply chains or risk delay in manufacture, the issue took centrestage and became a serious point of concern.
But despite the four years break since the 2018 show there have been no earthshattering announcements and business despite the bells and whistles attached to every sale it is a lot less than the over $192 billion worth of sales recorded in 2018 on published prices.
Much had been made of India leading the parade but so far nothing has happened. Air India was supposed to make an announcement for 300 aircraft for the next ten years and that huge deal was supposed to be augmented by buys from Jet and Akasa but no one is saying anything. Both giants refused to speak about Jet’s plans or their offers to this Indian resurgent airline. What is now the risk factor that every day’s delay sends the Indian plan back to the end of the line.
With none of the major players tooled up to make on time a demand of 43,000 plus aircraft predicted to be needed between now and 2042 at a cost of $7.2 trillion. India itself is marked up to need 2200 planes in all categories and this dithering is going to beat into its delivery schedule. Japan wasted no time pulling in slack with Feel Air picking up 36 options on the ATR family which is what India should have done long ago. Internally turboprops are the way to go especially if India is targeting the interior.
Despite the brouhaha over the inimical relationship between Airbus and Boeing it is, truth be told, such a glut neither wants any more of the market…they cannot handle the pressure as things stand.
The fact is that aviation must get cleaner and old aircraft will be junked, there is no getting away from it. Carriers cannot afford the fuel costs or the large carbon emissions and passing the buck to the passenger will only have blowback.
It is possible that airlines are hedging their bets until there is more clarity on Sustainable Aviation Fuels and if something like Rolls Royce’s work on a clean engine with zero emissions becomes a reality there will be a dramatic change in the purchase dynamics.