THE PARIS Air Show kicked off yesterday with more than $30bn (£19.1bn) of plane orders and a pledge from the UK government to boost British aerospace research.
As planemaking giants Boeing and Airbus jostled for orders at the industry gathering, business minister Michael Fallon said his department will make up to £25m available for research and technology projects at smaller aerospace firms.
“If we are to get ahead of the game we must create the right conditions now that incentivise businesses to invest in the UK and develop new, exciting products,” Fallon said.
Among the biggest orders on the first day of the air show came from GECAS, the aircraft leasing arm of General Electric, which agreed to take 10 of Boeing’s new Dreamliner models.
The deal is valued at $2.9bn at list prices, and is a boost for Boeing as the 787 Dreamliners return to the skies following battery problems.
Qatar Airways signed a deal for nine Boeing 777s, which would cost a total of $2.8bn at list prices, while Tui Travel confirmed its $6bn order with Boeing.
BA, Singapore Airlines and Air Lease are also expected to announce deals with the American planemaker during the show.
Meanwhile Lufthansa confirmed an order with European rival Airbus for around 100 of its A320 planes.
And lease firm Doric Asset Finance splashed out on 20 Airbus A380 superjumbos, worth around $8bn at list prices.
Doric, which rents planes to the likes of Emirates, said it expects to lease all the aircraft to just two or three companies. “This is why I think we may not have enough with our current agreement,” said chief executive Mark Lapidus.
ILFC, the aircraft leasing arm of insurance giant AIG, firmed up a deal to buy 50 additional A320neo planes.
Airbus hopes to impress aviation watchers on Friday by taking French President Francois Hollande along on its third test-flight of the new A350.
Away from the Boeing-Airbus dogfight for consumer orders, the military side of the air show has so far been muted, with firms such as Lockheed Martin laid low by defence budget cuts on both sides of the Atlantic.
BAE Systems hopes to clinch a deal with the United Arab Emirates for its Eurofighter Typhoon jet this year, business development boss Alan Garwood told Reuters.