Airbus upstages Boeing on birthday week

Three airlines announced orders for a combined dozen 787-9 Dreamliners from Boeing this week.

Boeing Co. will turn 100 years old during this week’s Farnborough International Airshow in England, but rival Airbus is doing most of the celebrating.

France-based Airbus notched 288 orders for commercial planes during the first three days of the air show, which ends Sunday. That is more than the 179 orders Boeing tallied during the period, according to the aviation news and data firm FlightGlobal.

Those figures don’t include options for future orders. Airbus also leads Boeing in that category, 115 to 1.

Boeing — which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Friday — holds the edge in wide-body orders, including those for the 787 Dreamliner it makes in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. Ruili Airlines, a low-cost carrier based in China, said Wednesday it ordered six 787-9 models to establish long-range services to complement its fleet of single-aisle planes.

“With our base in Yunnan province, Ruili Airlines is positioned to help build Yunnan as the gateway between Southwest China and the rest of the world,” Ma Zhanwei, chairman of Ruili Airlines, said in a statement. “The right size, long range, competitive fuel efficiency, as well as passenger-appealing edge of the 787-9 make it an ideal fit in facilitating our international expansion plans.”

Donghai Airlines, another Chinese carrier, ordered five 787-9s while TUI, a German tourism charter bought one 787-9. Both sales took place Tuesday. In addition, Donghai ordered 25 of Boeing’s 737 MAX8 single-aisle planes.

Single-aisle aircraft have dominated the order activity at this year’s show.

Malaysia’s AirAsia placed the biggest order — a $12.6 billion commitment to buy 100 Airbus A321 neo planes with an option for 100 more. India-based low-cost carrier Go Air signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 72 of the French planemaker’s A320 neo planes. And Synergy Group — the major shareholder in Avianca Holdings, with eight airlines in four countries — finalized a purchase of 62 A320 neo planes.

China-based Xiamen Airlines has provided Boeing with its biggest single order to date, for 30 of the 737 MAX 200 single-aisle planes. The airline, which is already a 737 MAX customer, sees the MAX 200 as a fit for low-cost subsidiaries including Jiangxi Airlines and Hebei Airlines.

Ruili’s commitment to buy six Dreamliners was one of three Boeing deals on Wednesday. Air Europa also ordered 20 of the company’s 737 MAX planes while Egypt Air ordered nine 737-800 planes.

Ruili first announced an intent to order the six 787-9s in May at a ceremony for the airline’s two-year anniversary.

Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement the Dreamliners will let Ruili “operate long-haul services to destinations as far as America and Europe.”

Established in February 2014, Ruili operates a fleet of nine 737 airplanes on 16 domestic routes with 46 daily departures. The startup carrier plans to expand its fleet to 70 airplanes by the end of 2025.

The 787-9, made of composite materials, carries 290 passengers and has a range of 7,635 nautical miles while using 20 percent less fuel than older aircraft.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_