Paris Air Show kicks off with Airbus-Boeing rivalry

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Battle of the Giants at Paris Air Show
PARIS (AP) — Airbus is betting on big jets as the future of aviation, while rival Boeing is gambling on smaller ones — but both sold scores of planes of all sizes at the Paris Air Show on Monday, defying predictions of slowing demand.

As industry heavyweights gathered in force at the Le Bourget airfield outside the French capital on the opening day of the 51st edition of the world's oldest air show, the informal race between the European and American plane makers produced promises or firm orders for more than 200 aircraft.

The event, which alternates annually between Paris and Farnborough in southern England, kicked off with a firm order for 60 single-aisle Airbus jets — worth $6.6 billion at list prices — and ambitious promises from Indonesia's flagship airline Garuda to buy 90 jets from both major plane makers in the years to come.

French President Francois Hollande inaugurated the event with hopes for big contracts for home team Airbus, which is based in the southern French city of Toulouse, and an appeal for fuel savings — his country prepares to host a major U.N. climate conference later this year.

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Paris Air Show kicks off with Airbus-Boeing rivalry
Visitors watch an Airbus A380 during a demonstration flight of the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
An Airbus A380 performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Catherine Maunoury of France performs a demonstration flight with a low-wing aerobatic Extra C 330 during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Catherine Maunoury of France performs a demonstration flight with a low-wing aerobatic Extra C 330 during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Vietnam Airlines performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. The Boeing 787, also dubbed the Dreamliner, has been the highest-selling wide-body jet globally this year, putting Boeing well ahead Airbus in the race for wide-body orders so far in 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Vietnam Airlines performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. The Boeing 787, also dubbed the Dreamliner, has been the highest-selling wide-body jet globally this year, putting Boeing well ahead Airbus in the race for wide-body orders so far in 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
An Airbus A350 performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James attends the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Deborah Lee James has confirmed weekend airstrikes targeting an extremist leader linked to al-Qaida, and says the results of the raid are still being studied. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French President Francois Hollande, center, listens to the explanations of CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, right, in front of a model of Philae spacecraft, foreground, during the inauguration of the 51st International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday June15, 2015. Visib(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, Pool)
Aircraft with logos are displayed during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Bombardier CS 300 performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. The Paris Air Show will take place at the Bourget airport, north of Paris, from June 15 to June 25. Bombardier held a world premiere flight of its CSeries program after development delays with the single-aisle planes, which the Canadian aircraft maker hopes will take a big chunk of the market from Airbus and Boeing. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Visitors walk next planes during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French President Francois Hollande, third from left, listens to the explanations of Dassault Aviation chairman Eric Trappier, as he visits the Dassault stand, during the inauguration of the 51st International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday June 15, 2015. A Rafale model is visible at foreground. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, Pool)
From left, U.S. Air Force Sgt. Greggory Swarz, Sgt. Eli Gordon, Sgt. John Escalante, Sgt. Jonathan MacNeely, and Cpl. Matthew Jeffers pose after being awarded with the Officier de la Legion d'Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour) for Swarz and France's National Defense gold medals for the others by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a ceremony on the opening day of the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. When a Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into five NATO planes parked on a Spanish air base tarmac, U.S. Air Force Sgt. Greggory Swarz heard the deafening blast, spotted the giant firewall that resulted and sprinted straight toward the flames to pull out four French airmen. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Visitors take pictures of An Airbus A380 during a demonstration flight of the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
The Airbus A400M military transport aircraft performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Airbus A400M prepares to land after his demonstration flight, on the inaugural day of the 51st International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday June 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, Pool)
The Patrouille de France display team performs for the inauguration day of the 51st International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday June 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, Pool)
U.S. Air Force Sgt. Greggory Swarz, left, is awarded with the Officier de la Legion d'Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour) medal by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a ceremony on the opening day of the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. When a Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into five NATO planes parked on a Spanish air base tarmac, U.S. Air Force Sgt. Greggory Swarz heard the deafening blast, spotted the giant firewall that resulted and sprinted straight toward the flames to pull out four French airmen. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
An Airbus A380 performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. The Paris Air Show will take place at the Bourget airport, north of Paris, from June 15 to June 25. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
An Airbus A380 performs its demonstration flight during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, Monday, June 15, 2015. Some 300,000 aviation professionals and spectators are expected at this week’s Paris Air Show, coming from around the world to make business deals and see dramatic displays of aeronautic prowess and the latest air and space technology. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
An employee walks past a Rafale at the Dassault Pavilion at the Paris Air Show, Le Bourget, east of Paris, on the eve of its opening, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The Paris Air Show will take place at the Bourget airport, north of Paris, from June 15 to June 25. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
U.S army personnel stand on the Boeing Helicopter AH-64D Apache Longbow at the Paris Air Show in le Bourget, east of Paris, on the eve of its opening, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The Paris Air Show will take place at the Bourget airport, north of Paris, from June 15 to June 25. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
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"The aviation sector created 10,000 jobs last year, we have hopes to create nearly as many in 2015," Hollande said, with bomber jets screaming overhead.

The memory of recent plane crashes remained fresh for some participants. Airbus Defense and Space made a point of flying its A400M military plane overhead — and landing it safely — to show confidence in the European jet program after a deadly crash last month near Seville, Spain.

Airbus says three of the four engines on that plane failed before it crashed, killing four people. Four of the five countries that have A400Ms grounded the plane after the incident.

In the commercial aviation industry, Airbus raised its 20-year forecast for plane demand in the commercial aviation industry, including hopes of long-term demand for the superjumbo A380, the biggest jet on the market.

Airbus projects that 32,600 new planes worth a total of $4.9 trillion will be needed by 2034.

John Leahy, Airbus' chief operating officer for customers, projected the very large aircraft segment would grow to about 1,500 planes over that span — mostly passenger planes.

He said travelers and airlines would be better off if larger aircraft were used instead of smaller planes flying more often, noting how he flew an Airbus jet from Toulouse to Paris for the air show and another one was leaving about a half-hour later.

Boeing argues the opposite, and is betting on smaller wide-bodies such as the 787. Boeing's overall forecast for the next 20 years is for 36,770 aircraft worth $5.2 trillion, with single-aisle planes the fastest-growing, largest overall segment.

"What we have seen is travelers want more frequency, more often," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder told The Associated Press. "We have actually revised downward the very large airplane market."

Both Airbus and Boeing are seeing sustained high demand for single-aisle planes at the air show, driven by demand in developing countries and by low-cost airlines.

Fuel-efficient planes are expected to remain popular among airlines despite lower oil prices this year. Analysts expect about 300-400 plane sales overall, lower than previous years in part because no major new jets are on the market.

In orders announced Monday, Airbus said that leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services is purchasing single-aisle A320neo and A321neo jets.

Garuda Indonesia signed a letter of intent for up to 60 Boeing jets — 30 of the popular single-aisle 737 MAX and 30 of Boeing's 787-9 planes. They would cost $10.8 billion at list prices if confirmed, though customers routinely negotiate discounts.

Garuda also put in a provisional order for 30 wide-body A350 jets, worth about $9 billion, which could serve routes from Jakarta or Bali to Europe.

Asian carriers are expected to dominate global aircraft demand over the next two decades, with Boeing estimating that roughly two out of five new planes will head to Asia.

At Farnborough last year, Airbus clinched orders and commitments for 486 aircraft valued at $75 billion. Boeing secured business worth $40.2 billion for 201 airplanes.

Leading U.S., Russian, European and Mideast military officials are also attending the show, expecting some 300,000 visitors from the public and the $700 billion aerospace and defense industry. It opens to the public Friday and runs through June 21.

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Maggy Donaldson, Oleg Cetinic and Jeff Schaeffer at Le Bourget contributed to this report.

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