Boeing orders fly high
Farnborough, 10 July 2012: US planemaker Boeing upstaged European rival Airbus as the Farnborough airshow began Monday, unveiling a US$7.2-billion order from an American lessor for 75 of its upcoming 737 MAX jets.
Airbus meanwhile managed only the sale of four of its upcoming single-aisle neo passenger planes — a rival to the MAX series — to Arkia Israel Airlines for a combined US$453 million.
It was an underwhelming first day at the Farnborough show for Airbus — its chief executive Fabrice Bregier also conceding there could be new delays to the delivery of its long-haul A350 plane due to enter service in mid-2014.
“Are we going to be right on track? No. I think there may be some slipping,” he told AFP in an interview, as amid the deal-making, Farnborough’s grey skies played host to fly-pasts from commercial and military jets.
Boeing had been expected to hit back hard against Airbus with a big order for its MAX jets at the biennial Farnborough event after the European group had secured large contracts for its neo at last year’s Paris airshow.
Boeing’s 737 MAX is an upgraded and more fuel-efficient version of the 737, the world’s best-selling commercial airplane.
The first 737 MAX is scheduled to be delivered in 2017, two years after the neo, which has been billed as a more fuel-efficient A320 thanks to engine upgrades.
Boeing on Monday announced that Air Lease Corporation had agreed a firm order for 60 737 MAX 8, and for 15 737 MAX 9 single-aisle planes, together worth the equivalent of 5.86 billion euros at list prices.
“The 737 MAX is an excellent addition to our portfolio and the ideal complement to our growing fleet of next-generation 737-800s,” said Air Lease Corporation chairman and chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy.
“The 737 MAX represents a step-change improvement that our airline clients need to compete in the future,” he said at the start of the week-long event near London.
Airbus also on Monday announced improved versions of its long-haul A330 series of passenger jets, allowing for longer journeys between major world cities thanks to higher fuel capacity.
It said that the new A330 models would bring “increased fuel efficiency thanks to aerodynamic refinements and engine enhancements.”
Airbus added that it had “decided to offer a further enhanced version of the popular A330 airliner by increasing the maximum takeoff weight capability to 240 metric tonnes” — extending market coverage.
“For example, this newest A330-300 will now be able to connect to the following new city pairs: London to Tokyo; Frankfurt to Cape Town; Beijing to Melbourne; Beijing to San Francisco; Kuala Lumpur to Paris; and Los Angeles to Dublin,” Airbus said in a statement.
A subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Airbus will also be looking at Farnborough to seal more orders for its A350, a response to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner which is flying after long technical delays.
The Farnborough show is a traditional battleground for Airbus and Boeing, but both manufacturers are facing increasing competition from Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier for mid-range aircraft. China and Russia were also getting in on the act.
Farnborough is also the stage for announcements of orders for military jets but with governments slashing defence budgets to help reduce huge public deficits, major deals are set to be scarce.
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