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Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Guy Johnson, CNBC Correspondent - Commentary
Monday, 15 Jun 2009 | 2:34 PM ET

Two years ago here at the Paris Airshow the sun was shining, the champagne corks were flying and the fizz was flowing as the orders rolled in for Airbus and Boeing. Wind the clock forward to now and the story is very different.

Ironically, while the rain pours down on the show there is a drought when it comes to orders and champagne. Indeed, the highlight of this show so far has been an order for 24 A320 family aircraft from Qatar Airways. By historic standards this is far from huge but in the current environment its a real talking point.

The carrier's CEO Akbar Al Baker could barely keep the smile off his face when I spoke with him after the announcement. He made it very clear that he had secured an extremely sweet deal Airbus' sales supremo John Leahy. Sadly we will never know the exact price tag but questions will be asked about how much money the European plane maker will be making on the transaction.

So for airlines with cash there is a real silver lining to this downturn and many more I suspect will try and take advantage of it.

Paris Air Show Highlights
Boeing and Airbus officials meet with airline executives behind closed doors at the Paris Air Show. CNBC's Guy Johnson is at the show with the details.

However, the silver linings don't end there. For GE Aviation (which is part of the same family as CNBC) the strong service element to the business is providing a real boost to cash flow and is vital for maitaining investment. After all, this is a long cycle business and executives need to keep their heads during this downturn to ensure that they have a business when the pick-up comes.

Talking of the recovery Scott Carson the CEO of Boeing's commercial side told me he expects the turn to come in the latter part of next year. In the mean time he says he has a fat order book to keep him going through the lean years. Indeed, this this highlights the big picture very well. While this IS an industry under a cloud it's only a grey cloud not a nuclear cloud. Boeing and Airbus are not going out of business anytime soon. This is Le Bourget not Detroit.

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