Airbus hinted at hundreds of plane orders in coming weeks as it gave an upbeat forecast for the Paris Air Show being held next month.
Chief Executive Tom Enders said the European planemaker expected to increase its haul of orders compared to last year’s comparable event, the Farnborough air show, at which leasing companies led the charge as demand picked up from the recession.
“Well I would say we could expect a few more orders,” Enders told reporters. “The market is active.” Airbus bagged 130 firm orders and 122 provisional orders at the UK show, which is held every other year in rotation with the Paris. This year’s show at Le Bourget runs from June 20-26, Reuters reports.
The chief executive of Airbus parent EADS, Louis Gallois, said he expected a “good air show”, adding he believed rival Boeing would have to react to Airbus’s revamped A320neo plane.
Airbus is said to be in talks with airlines including AirAsia and Qatar Airways over the plane. The head of AirAsia told Reuters this week an expected major order from the Malaysia carrier was “imminent”.
European executives turned out in force at a lavish ceremony to mark the delivery of Korean Air’s (003490.KS) first A380 superjumbo, complete with dancers performing acrobatic stunts.
Airbus is keen to show off the plane as it emerges from a production delay which pushed back deliveries about 2 years.
Gallois confirmed the planemaker’s target to deliver ‘around’ 25 of the A380 jetliners this year. Korean also recently ordered a revamped plane that competes with the A380, the 747-8 version of Boeing’s iconic jumbo jet.
At the other end of the scale, Gallois said he expected Boeing (BA.N) to follow Airbus by putting new engines on its best-selling 737 narrowbody jet, which competes with the A320.
“Boeing will have no other choice to react to the neo project,” Gallois told reporters. “Anyhow I can say that we do not regret our choice, Airbus did what was needed.”
Boeing has denied being pushed into a corner by Airbus and says it would rather plump for a bolder redesign, but has played down expectations of a decision by the Paris air show. The A320neo is an updated version of Airbus’s most-sold jet with new engines the planemaker says will provide up to 15 percent in fuel savings once it enters service in late 2015.
Sales chief John Leahy told Reuters Airbus was still on track to get 500 orders for the A320 neo by Le Bourget.
It currently has 332 commitments including 130 firm orders.
“We have said publicly that my target is to have over 500 neos committed by Le Bourget,” he said. “I think we are on track to do this.’