The Paris Air Show marks its 100th anniversary Monday amid rain, a gloomy economic forecast and lingering uncertainty over Airbus aircraft, following the still unexplained Air France crash over the Atlantic Ocean, two weeks ago.
The mood should have been celebratory, to fete the Paris Air Show's first century of existence, but the week-long industry event instead opened Monday with the doldrums. Airline, passenger and freight traffic has dropped in 2009 for the first time since 2001.
And, airline companies are cutting staff to weather the global economic and financial crisis. Overall, the International Air Transport Association has warned airlines will lose about nine billion dollars this year.
The crisis has also forced airlines to scrap or delay plans to buy new planes. Analyst Pierre Condom says tight credit is only making matters worse.
Condom told French radio there are few new orders for planes this year because airlines are having a hard time borrowing money from banks to finance new airplane purchases. And, airlines do not know when the economic crisis will be over, which also makes them reluctant to purchase.
The Air France crash over the Atlantic Ocean has also cast a shadow over the air show. The investigation into the crash is focusing on chances that faulty speed sensors may have helped cause the crash. The A330 aircraft in question is made by European aeronautics giant Airbus, which announced it would replace old speed sensors on all its A330 and A340 models.
Still, the news is not completely gloomy. There is sunny weather forecast for the Paris Air Show later this week and about 300,000 visitors are expected to attend this year's event. Boeing executive Scott Carson told reporters on Monday that he expected the aviation sector would start to recover next year.