Paris Air Show opens with Airbus-Boeing rivalry

PARIS (AP) — Rival planemakers Airbus SA and Boeing Corp. are gearing up to sell hundreds of jets and make billions of dollars in deals at the 51st International Paris Air Show opening Monday.

Leading U.S., Russian, European and Mideast military officials will also attend the show, to make deals and show off rival technologies at the world’s oldest air show.

Demand is high for single-aisle jets such as Airbus’ A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX, and 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.

Fallout from two recent plane disasters — a Germanwings passenger jet crash in the Alps and a military jet crash in Spain — will also be felt at the huge industry event.

French President Francois Hollande kicks off the event with a speech Monday at Le Bourget aerodrome northeast of Paris.

France-based Airbus led the unofficial orders race at the Farnborough Air Show last year and the Paris Air Show the year before, but Boeing is dominating the wide-body market this year.

Though the air show sales may be less frenzied than in the past, both leading planemakers see big business in the long term: Airbus’ 20-year outlook is for 31,350 new passenger aircraft and freighters worth $4.6 trillion, while Boeing’s equivalent forecast is for 36,770 aircraft worth $5.2 trillion.

Airbus will be showcasing its A400M military cargo jet with daily demonstrations at the Paris Air Show — seeking to quiet concerns about the jet following a deadly crash in May. Airbus has said that three of the plane’s four engines failed in the crash in Seville, Spain. Several countries suspended their A400Ms.

Remains of victims of another disaster, a Germanwings crash in the Alps in March, are being returned to families in Spain on Monday, days after a French prosecutor released new details about the troubled co-pilot who locked the pilot out of the cockpit and slammed the plane into a mountainside.

The show, expecting some 300,000 visitors from the public and the $700 billion aerospace and defense industry, opens to the public Friday and runs through June 21.