Farnborough rolls out stealth orders for commercial jets

FARNBOROUGH: The Farnborough Airshow is typically one of the world’s most publicity-focused business events, with plane giants and airline bosses battling to win headlines for deals signed under the roar of stealth fighter displays.
Not so this week, when Airbus and Boeing announced almost 300 orders from unnamed buyers, reversing the PR rulebook.
Airbus led the anonymous jetliner haul with almost 200 orders worth $24 billion at list prices, while Boeing said it had signed provisional deals with four unnamed customers for a total of 94 planes worth almost $11 billion at catalogue prices.
Airbus declined to discuss the identity of the buyers, but industry sources said its list was dominated by Chinese-related leasing companies.
Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz linked the reticence to global trade tensions, telling analysts some Asian customers had asked Airbus not to fan growing disputes. “Undisclosed or disclosed, either way the order is there,” he said.
“If that is enough to make airline customers want anonymity, what might they do if the trade disputes were to escalate?,” Jefferies analyst Sandy Morris commented in a note.
Several top delegates cautioned against overstating the link with trade tensions, however. Numerous factors are at play when deciding when to reveal order plans, such as waiting for board or government approvals, they said.
Winning the air show competition also has something to do with the sequence of announcements, two industry sources said. Airbus is behind Boeing in the race for orders this year.
Airbus listed orders for 80 A320neo narrow-body jets from an unidentified leasing company, another for 100 similar narrow-body aircraft, plus 14 large jets — eight A350-900 and six A330neo.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the first order for 80 aircraft came from China’s ICBC Leasing. — Reuters