CHICAGO – Boeing Co. grabbed an early lead in orders and commitments at the Paris Air Show over Airbus Group SE, piling up a haul valued at almost $18 billion with help from a surprise surge in wide-body demand.
Airbus’s first-day tally was $15 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The planemakers’ standing at the aviation industry’s oldest and largest trade event reversed their opening rankings at last year’s Farnborough Air Show, which alternates with the Paris expo.
“There’s more commercial activity than I expected,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant Teal Group. “The market’s still pretty buoyant. It’s good to see some twin-aisle sales because that’s where there are some gaps in the backlog.”
Emerging-market carriers including PT Garuda Indonesia, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Qatar Airways Ltd. were shopping for long-haul jets, a sign of faster travel growth in those regions than elsewhere. Heading into the Paris expo, analysts had played down sales prospects for Boeing and Airbus wide-bodies.
Ahead may be a deal for 100 single-aisle Boeing 737 Max jets for AerCap Holdings NV. The Netherlands-based lessor has been in talks to take its first Max aircraft, with a deal likely to come in Paris, sources have said. A purchase of that size would be valued at more than $10 billion, based on the $106.9 million price for the top-selling Max 8.
Embraer SA extended its advantage over Bombardier Inc. in regional aircraft, winning firm jet orders for $2.6 billion from customers including lessor Aircastle Ltd. and United Continental Holdings Inc.
Bombardier had one customer, Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss unit, convert a CSeries order to take 10 of the larger version of the new plane instead of the smaller CS100, and another, Canada’s WestJet Airlines Ltd., exercise options to add five Q400 turboprops.
Garuda signed up for 30 Airbus A350s and the same number of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners together worth almost $17 billion, while Saudia, as the Arab carrier is known, placed the first order for a regional version of the Airbus A330. Qatar Airways bought 10 of Boeing’s upgraded 777X plus four 777 freighters, valued at a combined $4.8 billion.
The A330s and 777s “may have come with favorable terms” as Airbus and Boeing seek to fill up available assembly-line slots ahead of planned transitions to newer models, said George Ferguson, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.
“Boeing and Airbus seem to be aggressively trying to close the production gap for the A330 and 777s, thus the sales of these wide-bodies today,” Ferguson said.
Garuda’s Dreamliner deal has a list price of about $7.7 billion, while the A350 component is worth more than $9 billion. The Asian carrier also wants 30 single-aisle 737 Max 8 planes worth about $3.2 billion, with the deals all outline orders.
Saudia’s announcement covers 20 A330-300s valued at about $5 billion, plus 30 single-aisle A320s with current-generation engines. Qatar’s 777-8X deal follows an earlier one for 50 -9X aircraft, while the 777 freighters will take the fleet to 12.
Customers typically get steep discounts on aircraft orders and don’t pay full list prices.
Boeing also announced Monday that Eva Airways Corp. of Taiwan intends to purchase five of the 777 cargo planes worth more than $1.5 billion at list prices.
General Electric Co.’s leasing unit agreed to buy 60 A320neos, the updated version of the A320 featuring new engines. That deal has a list value of about $6.4 billion. Lessors are prized buyers because they place planes with multiple customers. GE Capital Aviation Services has previously bought both Maxes and A30neos, while AerCap has neos on its books but only older Boeing 737s. GE is the sole engine supplier on the Max.
Among the first leasing companies to place orders at the show was Air Lease Corp., run by Steve Udvar-Hazy, which said it will buy one additional A350-900, as well as one of Airbus’s current A321s and three A320s.