Airbus $21 Billion Sales Blitz Tops Boeing as Show Opens

Airbus Group NV extended its lead over Boeing Co. on the second day of the Farnborough Air Show, winning orders and sales agreements valued at about $38 billion at the industry’s biggest expo.

Today’s dealmaking included AirAsia Bhd.’s $13.8 billion accord to buy the new A330neo, earning Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes a kiss from Fabrice Bregier, who runs Airbus’s jetliner unit. Boeing’s orders and options came to $9.6 billion, based on data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Airbus’s haul built on $21 billion in first-day sales yesterday at the event outside London, where it committed to offer an upgraded version of the current A330 with new engines. Toulouse, France-based Airbus entered the show in search of a shot of momentum, after cancellations cut first-half net orders to only 290 aircraft, trailing the 499 for Boeing.

“Boeing had seemed to be the one with momentum and Airbus wanted to reverse that impression at the air show,” said Nick Cunningham, managing partner at Agency Partners LLP in London. “Getting the A330neo launched looks and feels better.”

The air show, which alternates annually between Paris and Farnborough, spotlights the jockeying for global sales supremacy by Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing, the current leader. The event draws manufacturers, airlines, lessors, suppliers and inventors for a flurry of meetings and dealmaking.

Fireworks Fondness

“Airbus has a fondness for air-show fireworks,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Fairfax, Virginia-based Teal Group, said yesterday in a phone interview.

As AirAsia became the first airline buyer for the A330neo, Bregier grabbed Fernandes and bussed him on the cheek. The passion on display at the press conference then flowed from Fernandes to John Leahy, Airbus’s sales chief, who found himself on the receiving end of another smooch.

Airbus owes much of its show bounce to lessors, whose support is important because they place jets with multiple airlines -- a step toward ensuring wider customer acceptance of planemakers’ offerings.

The A330neo’s first buyer at the show was Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corp., whose CEO, Steven Udvar-Hazy, had urged Airbus to offer the plane now known as the A330neo. Air Lease also booked an order for 60 of Airbus’s single-aisle A321 model.

AerCap, SMBC

AerCap Holdings NV said it would buy 50 A321neos worth $5.14 billion, the first jet purchase since the world’s biggest independent aircraft lessor bought Hazy’s former company, International Lease Finance Corp., for $7.6 billion in May. An $11.8 billion purchase of A320-family planes by SMBC Aviation Capital Ltd. was Airbus’s biggest single-aisle order from an aircraft lessor.

CIT Group Inc.’s leasing unit said today it would buy A330 wide-bodies as well as single-aisle aircraft valued at $4.7 billion, before Avolon Aerospace Leasing Ltd. agreed to purchase A330s for $4.1 billion.

For Airbus, keeping its firm orders -- and confirming the preliminary agreements -- will be especially important after a first half marked by 225 cancellations. That compares with 54 for Boeing.

The early results don’t fully reflect discussions that could yield more sales later in the year, John Wojick, Boeing’s chief commercial aircraft salesman, said in an interview. “Sales ebb and flow,” he said.

Boeing’s sales today included orders for six 777-300ERs, the planemaker’s biggest twin-engine jet, from Air Lease and another six to lessor Intrepid Aviation Group Holdings. Intrepid also got options for four more of the planes, and CIT said it would buy 10 787-9 Dreamliners.