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Little to celebrate at Paris Air Show

June 15, 2009

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– John Bowker is UK Transport and Utilities Correspondent–

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It feels like a typical day at the Paris Air Show — terrible transport links, a vast complex of exhibition tents, planes of all sizes and noise so dreadful it’s impossible to talk, let alone use a mobile phone.

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One difference is the weather. It’s more like Manchester in February than Paris in June, chucking it down.

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Another is the mood. You’ll find happier people on the Northern Line during a Tube strike. It may be the centenary of the signature event of the aviation calendar, but there is little to celebrate this year.

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The world of passenger planes is suffering the toughest conditions on record. Airlines are grounding planes all over the world, and are expected by the industry body to rack up a combined $9 billion of losses this year. It’s hardly the time for going on a buying spree.

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The defence industry is looking slightly brighter since President Obama unveiled a rise in the U.S. defence budget — easily the biggest in the world at over $530 billion. But likely cuts in the UK and elsewhere have dampened the general mood.

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On top of economic woes, the Air France 447 plane crash into the Atlantic has stunned the industry. No one yet knows what happened, and no one wants to mention the word “safety”. Everybody wants the incident to blow over, but knows that it will not.

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With all that in mind, it was impressive to hear so many attempts to sound upbeat.

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“If this is the worst it can possibly be, we’re doing OK,” said New York aerospace banker David Baxt, as he watched crowds gather below fighter jets doing loop-di-loops.

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Boeing’s commercial chief Scott Carson said he saw a recovery in the middle of next year, while Russian-owned Sukhoi stole the (air)show – sending its newly built Superjet plane into the sky for its first public flight and forecasting 150 orders by the year end.

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But the smattering of first day orders was nothing to write home about – a Qatar Airways order for 24 Airbus planes the underwhelming highlight. There’s still the rest of the week, but judging by the opening salvos, it’ll be a far from memorable centenary.

Comments

Why is a story about the PARIS air show in the UK news section?

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive
 

This is a very good question. We don’t yet have an equities blog, although it is in the planning stages. John Bowker is the UK Transport and Utilities Correspondent and he wrote this post from a UK perspective so this is where it is posted. It is also in the Global News Blog.

Posted by Julie Mollins | Report as abusive
 

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