Government-controlled British bank Royal Bank of Scotland acknowledged being the mystery buyer of nearly $8 billion in new passenger jets, as an expected flurry of new orders shook up the third day of the Farnborough Airshow.
Leasing subsidiary RBS Aviation Capital on Wednesday put its name to orders for 52 Airbus A320 family planes and 43 Boeing 737 family aircraft, all of which had been previously listed on the planemakers' books as sales to unnamed buyers.
No fewer than five plane manufacturers scheduled press conferences for Wednesday morning, all of which were expected to lead to orders of one kind or another.
The civil side has had a good week but the worry remains that the mature markets of Europe and North America are not the ones that have been committing to new aircraft, said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners.
Show organizers already tipped an announcement by Boeing and Qatar Airways, and Airbus is expected to be active as well after it s top sales executive said on Tuesday night it would beat its full-year order forecast.
Brazil's Embraer , Canada's Bombardier and Russia's Irkut all have events at the same time, with a heavy focus in particular on whether Bombardier will finally announce an order for its new C-series plane.
The military segment of the aviation industry is still at the show, and still actively selling despite a lack of public attention. At the far end of the show grounds, away from most of the cameras, smaller contractors are working aggressively to drum up business from larger nations.
At the same time, though, the Western majors are struggling with the new realities of defense spending. UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox drove that home Tuesday with a speech at Farnborough in which he said the industry needed to cut its prices and deliver better value for money to taxpayers.
We're getting very close to the staring grid in terms of what and how deep the cuts will be, BGC's Wheeldon said.
(Reporting by Reuters Farnborough bureau, editing by Ben Berkowitz)