A day after Airbus stole the spotlight from Boeing by announcing orders worth around US$45 billion (euro34 billion), its U.S. rival is expected to unveil several orders for its superselling Dreamliner 787.
Boeing, which on Monday tallied up orders worth US$4.4 billion (euro3.3 billion) is likely to leap into double figures when it provides an update on the Dreamliner - the first commercial jet made of light, sturdy, carbon-fiber composites instead of aluminum - later Thursday.
The Dreamliner is pitted against Airbus' troubled A350 in the lucrative commercial medium-sized long-range jet market and so far it has easily outstripped the latter in sales.
Heading into the fair, Chicago-based Boeing had already pocketed 584 orders for the Dreamliner, compared with Toulouse-based Airbus' 13 orders for its A350.
Airbus added a total of 92 firm orders to that 13 on Monday, including a deal to supply Qatar Airlines with 80 of the jets in a deal worth around US$16 billion (euro12 billion). It also announced a preliminary deal with US Airways for 20 of the planes.
Airbus' decision to redesign the jet after customer complaints - resulting in the extra-wide-body, or XWB, model - has pushed back its delivery date until 2013, years behind the first deliveries of the Dreamliner which are due in May.
Critics also remain outspoken, among them Steve Udvar-Hazy, the founder and chief executive of Los Angeles-based International Lease Finance Corp., the world's largest airline leasing company.
Udvar-Hazy has said that the A350 is no match for the Dreamliner and has hinted that he will sign a deal for a significant number of Boeing's new commercial jet in the coming days at Le Bourget.
Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Operating Officer Jim Whitehurst is likely to order as many as 125 of Boeing's new 787 jetliners by the end of this year. The carrier is weighing "a massive order over a long period of time," Whitehurst told the Wall Street Journal in New York in an interview published Tuesday.
Emirates, which on Monday ordered an additional eight Airbus double-decker A380s in a deal estimated to be worth about US$2.5 billion (euro1.9 billion), remains ambivalent about its future choice between the A350 and the Dreamliner.
"We've got some talking to do to both Boeing and Airbus with regard to the commercial terms of the deal, but I think we're in a good position to make an aircraft decision in the next few months," said Emirates President Tim Clark.
Clark said the carrier would select only one of the aircraft, rather than buying some of each.
Airbus' decision to focus on the 525-seat superjumbo A380 is the reason it lost its position as the world's dominant planemaker. Wiring and other technical problems have led to a two-year delay in delivery of the plane, which is expected to wipe Ђ4.8 billion (US$6.2 billion) off the profit of parent company European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. NV over the next four years.
Emirates, the biggest single customer for the A380, is believed to have obtained significantly improved financial terms for these aircraft and the latest batch of eight announced Monday.
Planemakers often reserve big announcements for the air shows held on alternate years in Le Bourget, north of Paris, and Farnborough, on the outskirts of London, to ensure maximum impact. The announcements usually include a mix of new orders, confirmed previous orders and plans for future orders.
The Paris show comes amid revived fortunes for the commercial airline industry. After two years in the red, the industry will make a profit of just over US$5 billion (euro3.7 billion) this year, despite rising fuel costs, says the International Air Transport Association, whose 250 members claim to represent 94 percent of international air traffic.
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