All eyes on the big birds, February 15

15 Feb 2014

They came, they soared, they conquered, all in the name of raking in billions of dollars of deals. The six-day Singapore Airshow extravaganza opened on Tuesday with organisers announcing yesterday that a record high of more than US$32 billion in deals had been signed as Asian carriers tried to meet explosive demand for cheap, short-range travel. European manufacturer Airbus accounted for almost half the total, with just under US$1 billion in orders for its popular A320 single-aisle jet and its flagship A380 superjumbo. Among the deals was an order by low-cost airline VietJetAir for 63 A320 jets worth US$6.4 billion with rights to buy or lease another 32. That deal would boost the Vietnamese airline's fleet tenfold. Airbus also flew in its latest tarmac showstopper, the A350 XWB, to make its first airshow appearance and hopefully steal the limelight from Boeing's Dreamliner.