Paris Day 1: Airbus takes the Indi 500

The biggest story of the first day of the Paris Air Show didn’t materialize until the late afternoon. And when it did it was impossible to miss. An order for 500 firm Airbus A320neo family aircraft for IndiGo marked the single largest commercial deal in aviation history by units. The previous record stood for 112 days, when relaunched Air India in February bought 470 aircraft of all sizes from Boeing and Airbus. This record may not stand for long, as Turkish Airlines may eclipse today’s deal soon enough.

For the sake of comparison, Airbus averaged net annual orders for 531 airplanes across 2020, 2021 and 2022. Indeed, a pandemic was raging, but the Indigo deal along with several others from carriers in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia that have surpassed triple digits in the last 24 months have turned the industry status from evaporated demand to insufficient supply. It’s a trend that looks a lot like hoarding.

Yet, it’s that insufficient supply driving the energy at Le Bourget in 2023, even as airlines plot into the 2030s. The flight line, chalets and halls were packed with a level of activity your correspondent hasn’t seen since 2011. The badly weakened commercial aerospace industrial chain is the key to delivering all these airplanes and the posturing to meet airframer commitments for the decade ahead feels downright frenetic.

During the week of the 54th Paris Air Show, The Air Current editorial team is publishing a daily email newsletter from here in Le Bourget. As part of our coverage, both our Dispatches and Airflow newsfeed are also available to enjoy without a subscription. All of our scoops and long-form reporting are only available with a subscription to TAC.

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