Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders at the 2011 Paris Air Show (Airbus photo)

Airbus Claims Record Haul in Paris: $72.2 Billion

High demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft helps Airbus and Boeing, which predicts 460,000 new pilots and 650,000 new technicians will be needed by 2030.

The commercial aviation arms race swung in favor of Airbus at the 49th Paris Air Show this week, with the French manufacturer announcing it had won about $72.2 billion worth of business, representing 730 aircraft, there. Airbus described this as a new record "for any commercial aircraft manufacturer at any air show ever."

Boeing announced on the air show's third day that it had signed commitments for 142 aircraft in Paris by that point, with the largest order, 40 next-generation 737s, to UTair Aviation, a Russian airline. Both Boeing and Airbus are touting eco-friendly jetliners with greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, noted in a blog post from Paris that the strong demand for commercial aircraft means 460,000 new pilots and 650,000 new technicians will be needed by 2030, according to the 2011 Pilot and Technician Outlook released at the show by Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services.

The Airbus total includes memoranda of understanding for 312 aircraft worth $28.2 billion and firm purchase orders for 418 aircraft worth around $44 billion. Its top seller by far, with 667 aircraft commitments, was the A320 New Engine Option – a/k/a the A320neo, launched in December 2010. Airbus claims this aircraft will deliver fuel savings of 15 percent that means 3,600 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per aircraft annually. NOx emissions and engine noise are also reduced. Its total backlog stands at 1,029 units, making it the best-selling airliner in the history of commercial aviation, according to the company.

"Le Bourget 2011 [the Paris show] is a strong confirmation of our product strategy. With over 1,000 commitments just half a year after launch, our A320neo is a real best seller," said Tom Enders, president and CEO of Airbus. "I have to admit, I largely underestimated the market demand for neo before this show."

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