* Boeing set to launch 737 MAX 10 with flurry of orders
* Lockheed close to $37 bln-plus deal for F-35 warplane
* French President Macron gives boost to troubled A400M
By Tim Hepher and Mike Stone
PARIS, June 19 The Paris Airshow opened under
bright blue skies on Monday, with a new member of Boeing's
best-selling 737 range set to vie for attention with a
potentially huge order for F-35 fighter jets and a visit by
French President Emmanuel Macron.
After years of booming orders, driven by rising air travel
and more fuel-efficient planes, passenger jetmakers are bracing
for a slowdown in demand while they focus on meeting tight
delivery schedules and ambitious production targets.
But U.S. planemaker Boeing is expected to generate a
fresh burst of activity at the world's biggest airshow by
launching the 737 MAX 10 to plug a gap against European rival
Industry sources say the 190-230 seat plane could attract in
the region of 150 orders at the July 19-25 Paris event.
Not to be outdone, Airbus is close to clinching a roughly $5
billion deal with low-cost carrier Viva Air Peru for about 30
planes, two industry sources said on Sunday.
While demand for passenger jets may be faltering, there are
signs interest in military aircraft is picking up after years in
the doldrums due to budget cuts and weak economic growth.
Lockheed Martin is in the final stages of
negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter
jets to a group of 11 nations including the United States, two
people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
That would be the biggest deal yet for the stealthy
warplane, set to make its Paris Airshow debut this week.
In another boost for a defence project, French President
Emmanuel Macron was due to fly into the show on an Airbus A400M
military transporter in his first official engagement since
winning a parliamentary majority in elections on Sunday.
His arrival is expected to be followed by a flypast by the
world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, and France's
aerial display team.
The ceremony will lend high-level support to two ambitious
European aerospace projects tarnished by problems in recent
years: the A400M because of chronic cost overruns and delays and
the A380 because of weak sales that threaten its future.
Airbus said on Sunday it was working on an upgrade of the
A380 - called A380plus - with fuel-saving wingtips, confirming
plans reported by Reuters in March.
Boeing, however, is expected to say at the Paris show that
demand for mammoth planes such as the A380 and its own 747 is
(Additional reporting by Vicki Bryan; writing by Mark Potter;
editing by David Clarke)