After the World's Largest Airshow, Who Emerged Victorious?

The Farnborough International Airshow 2014 had something on offer for everyone – from aerospace majors to smaller plane makers.

Aug 18, 2014 at 4:30PM

The Farnborough Aerodrome is well known for its history of connecting mankind to aircraft, and the show's plane-buying trends act as a barometer of the health of the aviation world. The 27th Farnborough International Airshow wrapped up on July 20, and this year's event had plenty of new stories to tell. There were splendid displays by Boeing (NYSE:BA), Airbus (NASDAQOTH:EADSY), Embraer (NYSE:ERJ), Bombardier, and others. Now that couple weeks have passed and the hangover has ended, we can take stock of the key ordering trends that will shape the future of the swanky plane makers.

Farnborough International Airshow 2014, Source: Flickr.

The show stealer: Airbus
Airbus and Boeing dominated the air show, leaving little for other manufacturers -- more than 88% of the $130 billion in total orders went to the duo. The European plane maker bagged the highest number of deals, with orders for a mind-boggling 496 aircraft valued at $75 billion (55.6 billion euros). This has been Airbus' best Farnborough to date, as never before it has witnessed so many orders valued this high.

Airbus received a whopping 317 orders for the single-aisle A320neo and A321neo combined. The orders are a sign of the warm welcome given by airlines to these new cost-effective planes.

The weeklong airshow also proved that the market for wide-body aircraft is flourishing. Airbus launched the much-awaited A330neo, the reengineered version of the A330, and promptly received commitments for 121 of the aircraft. The deals are to be finalized later in the year. AirAsia X ordered 50 A330-900neos.

The A330neo series will be Airbus' answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the company claims the jets will reduce fuel consumption by 14% per seat over the outgoing A330 model and increase the aircraft's range by 400 nautical miles.

Airbus A380 at Farnborough International Airshow 2014, Source: Flickr.

The American aircraft major: Boeing
Airbus may have set the stage on fire, but Boeing was not far off with a total of 201 orders worth more than $40 billion (29.7 billion euros). In its history of 40 years as a participant, Boeing has had better shows; for example, it bagged orders for 396 airplanes in the previous event in 2012. But its planes definitely made an impact among carriers, as Boeing in July booked a company one-month record with 324 orders.

In Farnborough, Hainan Airlines ordered 50 737 Max 8 aircraft, Qatar Airways picked up 50 777-9X, and the remaining 101 orders came from various other airlines for other models. The most interesting machine displayed was the Boeing 737-700C aircraft. The jet provides the flexibility of changing the layout to accommodate either passengers or cargo, as the situation demands.

Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner made its debut flight during the air show. The aircraft put up a stunning demonstration that grabbed everyone's attention. According to a new news report, Japan's ANA will soon become the first airline to put the Boeing 787-9 into the sky.

The Chicago-based giant also wants to equip its 737 Max 8 with increased sitting capacity of up to 200 seats, from the previous 189 seats. This modification would provide better fuel efficiency, reducing consumption by 20% per seat mile compared to the older model. However, airlines need to consider that the seat pitch will shrink to 29 inches per seat.

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at the Farnborough International Airshow 2014, Source: Flickr.

Embraer and Bombardier
Among smaller manufacturers, Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer bagged deals worth $6.7 billion and received multiple orders for its latest E-Jet E2, a model the company launched last year at the Paris Air Show. The total amount may look small compared to Boeing or Airbus, but it's more than Embraer's 2013 revenue of $6.2 billion. 

Embraer received total orders for 216 aircraft. The largest order for 50 E175-E2 jets came from Trans States Holdings, and there's a possibility of an order for another 50 units. The company also received two orders for the E190 jet and 30 for the E195-E2 jet. These trends indicate the market's continued interest in the 70-130 seater jets, and Embraer's dominance on this segment.

The much-awaited Bombardier CSeries planes were conspicuous by their absence at the air show. The CSeries marks the Canadian manufacturer's foray into the 100-149 seater category, but engine problems kept the plane away from the show. Bombardier received orders for 74 aircraft worth more than $4.25 billion (3.1 billion euros). Overall, the company is satisfied with the performance and believes better days are ahead for it.

Foolish takeaway
The Farnborough International Airshow lived up to its reputation of providing great insights on developments in the aviation industry. Almost every major airline found something it liked as the aircraft makers displayed their latest and greatest machines. While Airbus and Boeing stole the limelight, other players had their moments of glory, too. 

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ICRA Online and Eshna Basu have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Embraer-Empresa Brasileira. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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