Farnborough 2022: Boeing returns to Airbus in race for control

International air shows are back. If the Dubai show marked the restart in November 2021, the Farnborough show, which ends on Sunday, is the confirmation. And through these shows, it’s the Airbus-Boeing match that’s coming back into focus. While the performance of the two contenders won’t go down in history, it’s still interesting to watch.

While Airbus had livened up the Dubai tarmac with 269 firm orders and 139 commitments in three days, as well as the commercial launch of its A350F freighter, the European manufacturer was much more discreet in the Farnborough spans. Conversely, Boeing, which had to settle for crumbs and wait until the last day to save its living room with an order for 72 medium-haul 737 MAX aircraft.

According to Guillaume Faury, Airbus “provides the answer” to the relevance of the ramp-up

Boeing the great animator with the MAX

In the British countryside, however, it is the American manufacturer that takes center stage thanks to its MAX, further confirming its return to grace. After getting its show off to a perfect start with an order for 100 firm examples of Delta Air Lines’ 737 MAX 10 (and 30 in options), Boeing kept up the pressure in the days that followed. It has signed a new contract with the American investment fund 777 Partners for 30 fixed aircraft of the MAX family, 737 MAX 8 and 8-200, with options for 36 more. And since a show can hardly be imagined without an order from a lessor, the Aviation Capital Group has opted for 12 more Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

Also for the 737 MAX a last nice contract was signed with Qatar Airways for 25 MAX 10. Notably, these devices, which have already been in the pipeline for a few months, will replace the A321 NEO canceled by Airbus.

Boeing has also formalized an order for 20 firm examples of the 737 MAX 8 and 10 in options with ANA, but the Japanese group had already announced the contract confirmation the previous week. And the planes were already in the order book.

Opposite, the European manufacturer had to settle for 12 A220-300s for Delta Air Lines, which will become the aircraft’s main customer, and 17 A321 NEOs – including long-haul A321 XLR copies – for Latam Airlines. Its biggest success was the confirmation of a contract with Easyjet for 56 A320 NEO Family aircraft, although these are purchase rights from a previous order that the British company had been communicating about for several weeks.

In Farnborough, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and CFM are pursuing the green engine

A few 787s to add to the bill

Already dominating mid-haul, Boeing has also managed to sell some long-haul aircraft at Farnborough, despite a still-complicated environment for the sector — not to mention the quality issues the manufacturer has pointed out with the 787 and certification with the 777X has encountered. The Dreamliner’s biggest customer, lessor AerCap, has further cemented its position with five more 787-9s. For its part, Azerbaijan Airlines decided on a letter of intent for four 787-8s.

Boeing’s freighter strength also responded by selecting Cargolux’s 777-8F to replace the 747-400, but primarily with freighter-converted passenger aircraft. The manufacturer recorded an order from Aircompany Armenia and Georgian Airlines for three 737-800BCFs and lessor BBAM for nine before completing the series with three fixed 767-300BCFs and one as an option for Saltchuk Aviation.

In the end, Boeing therefore received no fewer than 172 fixed aircraft and 70 options and commitments, not counting ANA, as well as 15 aircraft converted to cargo with option. Compared to Airbus, they are content with 29 orders, not counting those from Easyjet.

The European manufacturer can take comfort, however, with gross orders already recorded at the end of June of 442 – pending confirmation of major orders from Chinese companies – versus 286 for Boeing. The difference is less obvious when you factor in cancellations, with 259 net orders for Airbus versus 205 for Boeing.