French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurates in the morning this 54th edition of the International Air and Space Show, the most important in the world.

Among the 2,500 exhibitors, he should meet some of the 1,130 French companies present that make the aerospace sector the leading contributor to the French trade balance (22.7 billion euros in 2022).

The president has already announced on Friday a plan of 2.2 billion euros to accompany the maturation of technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of the aircraft. This includes the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), the main means of reducing CO2 emissions.

The biennial gathering of Le Bourget is presented as "the show of recovery" after the pandemic that has dried up the finances of airlines, durably disrupted the supply chains of manufacturers and forced to cancel the 2021 edition.

It is "the return of the good old days of the excitement of the show," enthuses Guillaume Faury, boss of Airbus and the Groupement des industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales (Gifas), the organizer of the event.

More than 320,000 visitors are expected from 19 to 25 June at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, the first four days being reserved for professionals; The general public will be able to visit it from Friday.

The drift of an Air France aircraft next to models of the Ariane 1 (g) and Ariane 5 (d) rockets at the International Air and Space Show at Paris-Le Bourget airport, June 18, 2023 © JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

If the American exhibitors came in force, Russia is persona non grata because of the sanctions imposed against Moscow. China will also be represented, although it will be necessary to wait for other editions to see the country's first modern medium-haul, the COMAC C919, which wants to make a place between the best-selling Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.

As global air traffic is on track to return to pre-Covid levels, airlines are looking to renew their fleets with more cost-effective aircraft, which consume less fuel and therefore emit less CO2 to meet the injunction to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

And faced with aircraft manufacturers whose delivery slots are full for the next few years, they anticipate their growth while global air traffic should double by this time.

F-35 and electric aircraft

How many Airbus, how many Boeing? "Everyone will look at the big orders," says Guillaume Faury. But in the absence of events during the pandemic, "the habit of concentrating everything at the time of the shows has been a little lost, so I'm not sure we have the same dynamic as we had before Covid," he relativized at the Paris Air Forum conference on Friday.

Orders there will be, says Stan Deal, head of Boeing's commercial aircraft branch.

The Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft is on display at the International Air and Space Show at Paris-Le Bourget airport, June 18, 2023 © JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

"But our main goal remains to continue working with the industry to recover from Covid," he told reporters on Sunday.

The stakes are major for the two aircraft manufacturers, faced with the difficulties of their supply chains to follow the ramp-ups to deliver the aircraft.

The show will also dedicate Friday to young people to present the range of professions in a sector in dire need of arms and brains.

In a context of the return of war in Ukraine and an increase in military budgets, particularly in Europe, military aeronautical equipment will also be the focus of attention. Especially in terms of air defense.

Turkish drones are on display at the International Air and Space Show at Paris-Le Bourget Airport, June 18, 2023 © JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Paris is organizing a ministerial conference on the subject on the sidelines of the show to try to harmonize positions between Europeans, whose anti-aircraft capabilities are few and disparate.

A total of 158 aircraft, drones and helicopters, from commercial wide-body aircraft to prototypes of electric aircraft or "flying taxis", including the American F-35 or a supersonic strategic bomber of the US Air Force, will be exhibited on 125,000 m2.

© 2023 AFP