Paris: Maindeck yes, belly no

This year’s edition of the Paris Air Show was different. The headline news at both the Paris and Farnborough Air Shows has traditionally been one or more (usually more) orders for large widebody passenger jets. This year? At the 2017 Paris Air Show, we know of only fourteen orders for large widebody passenger jets. Ethiopian Airlines firm-ordered ten A350-900s and United Airlines firm-ordered four 777-300ERs. Medium widebodies fared somewhat better, with Boeing taking firm orders from three customers for thirty-eight 787 Family aircraft plus a commitment from a fourth for eight; while Airbus booked a firm order for two A330-200s.

The remainder of the almost 1,200 orders and commitments were for narrowbody passenger aircraft (notably Boeing’s just-launched 737 MAX 10), plus a small number of freighters.

Why the big change? If you look back at those large widebody orders of years past, most were from Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. But this year, for the first time in many years, airlines in the Persian Gulf region have had to pay attention to costs. To say nothing of the fact that even if they could still offer blank checks, they already have huge fleets of widebody passenger jets, with many more already on order.

The chart below provides a summary of the overall order and commitment totals, while the smaller chart at right looks only at orders and commitments involving freighters. But, more noteworthy than the freighter orders themselves is that, for the first time in what seems like forever, we have come out of a major air show without a massive increase in future belly capacity.

We looked at the individual freighter-conversion orders in detail last week as they were announced, and you can read about them as follows:

DHL’s order for four A330-300 P-to-F conversions is here.

GECAS’ decision to convert another thirty 737-800s to BCF freighter configuration is here.

West Atlantic’s order with GECAS to lease four 737-800BCFs is here.

In addition, as shown in the top chart, Lockheed Martin booked a firm order (its first) for five LM-100J transports, and Ethiopian Airlines committed to two 777Fs with Boeing.

Regarding total orders and commitments (as shown at right), Boeing booked 385 firm orders and 488 commitments, while Airbus booked 152 firm orders and 174 commitments.

And, fianally, in addition to the mainline jets shown above, fourteen carriers placed orders and commitments for a total of ninety-seven regional jets and turboprop aircraft (all in passenger configuration).

If you are interested in an in-depth look at the narrowbody freighter market, join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2 – 4 October, where senior executives from the major conversion houses will participate in a session titled: “Narrowbody Freighter Conversions – New Programs, New Questions. To register, or for more information, go to


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