Europe News

Aviation World Has Arrived in Paris Under a Cloud

Guy Johnson, CNBC Correspondent - Commentary

This is the 100th Paris Airshow but the aviation industry has little to celebrate. The grey weather here at Le Bourget really sums up to mood of most CEOs in the industry and it's extremely unlikely that we will see the flurry of aircraft orders normally associated with the event. The tragic news associated with Air France 447 is also casting a long shadow and is likely to dominate many of Airbus' scheduled events.

That said, there is some talk of recovery and Scott Carson the CEO of Boeing Commercial told me earlier that he is looking for a bounce in 2010. However, he admits there are many significant potential problems to be overcome before that happens.

With the price of oil rising and credit remaining tight, he says airlines are going to find it hard to make a profit and most won't be looking to spend what cash they have on new aircraft. Even Middle East carriers such as Emirates won't be making a splash though look out for a sizable order from Qatar.

Paris Air Show Highlights

If there is a silver lining for Boeing it's that the downturn has given the firm a little more breathing space to fix the problems associated with its 787 Dreamliner. The project is already well behind schedule and is a huge drag on both profitability and more significantly cash flow. The company, I suspect, was hoping to have the jet flying before Paris but it's missed this window and should now have it flying in the next few weeks.

Staying with the silver lining theme, the rising oil price should play to Honeywell's strength. The firm provides the brains of most aircraft (the avionics and flight control systems) and the most up-to-date versions will help carriers save money. Despite this, CEO Dave Cote is still cautious about predicting when the rain clouds will clear.

On that note, it has just started raining again so I am going to head off to find out if there is anything behind this morning's speculation that Qatar is going to provide the days news and announce a big order for Boeing or Airbus.