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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Boeing planes are displayed at the 2017 Paris Air Show. Usually a chance to tout technology and rake in orders, the show is clouded this year by safety and economic issues.

Saturday, June 15, 2019 1:00 am

Boeing woes cloud Paris show

DAVID KOENIG | Associated Press

Uncertainty over a Boeing jet and apprehension about the global economy hover over the aircraft industry as it prepares for next week's Paris Air Show.

That show and its alternating-years companion, the Farnborough International Airshow near London, are usually upbeat celebrations of the latest and greatest in aviation technology. In recent boom years, they have become a stage for huge aircraft orders.

This year, however, the mood could be different. The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded worldwide for three months after new flight software played a role in two deadly plane crashes. There is no clear date for when it might fly again.

There are other troubling signs for the industry. After several years of surging growth, passenger traffic in March grew at the weakest rate in nine years, although April was slightly better. The chief of the International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group, blamed a slowing global economy and damage from tariffs and trade fights.

Air cargo shipments – considered a leading economic indicator – fell 4.7% in April, continuing a slump that began in January and could dent demand for air freighters.

And airlines have committed to buy so many planes that Boeing now has a backlog of 5,500 orders and Airbus has 7,200 – far higher than usual. Airlines might not have much appetite for more.

“There is a lot to be concerned about,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group. “It might make for kind of a grim Paris.”

Heading into the show, Boeing and Airbus have reported much weaker orders this year. Boeing received no orders in May after getting just one in April. Airbus saw an increase in deliveries, but it reported just one new order last month.