One of the world's largest buyers of Boeing jets is teaming up with Korean Air to add 30 787 Dreamliners to the Seoul-based carrier's fleet, the companies announced Tuesday during the second day of the Paris Air Show.
Korean Air said it plans to buy 10 787-10 models, the largest Dreamliner variant built exclusively at Boeing's North Charleston plant, and lease 10 more of the twin-aisle "Dash 10s" from Air Lease Corp.
The Asia-based carrier also will buy 10 mid-sized 787-9 models. At list prices, the 30-plane deal is valued at $6.3 billion.
Walter Cho, chairman of Korean Air, said the Dreamliners "will become the backbone of our long-haul fleet for many years to come."
Los Angeles-based Air Lease will have 61 Dreamliners in its fleet once the Korean Air deal and a separate order Tuesday for five 787-9s are finalized.
"Demand for reliable, versatile, and fuel-efficient airplanes is at an all-time high," said Steven Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of Air Lease.
The Dreamliner orders were the first for Boeing at this week's Paris Air Show. The company's executives said they want to focus less on orders and more on re-establishing trust in Boeing's planes this year following a pair of deadly 737 Max crashes that led to the ongoing grounding of that plane.
In a positive sign for the 737 Max program, International Airlines Group said on Tuesday that it plans to buy 200 of the single-aisle Max jets for its carriers that include British Airways and Iberia.
"We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators," said Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive.
Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton called the IAG deal "a huge shot in the arm for Boeing," which hadn't booked an order in the two months between the Max grounding and the air show that started Monday. Deliveries of the IAG planes are scheduled to begin in 2022.
"With no end in sight to Max grounding and Boeing under siege by legal, Congressional, regulatory and criminal investigations, the (deal) couldn’t come at a better time," Hamilton said.
Boeing's slow start in Paris contrasts with French rival Airbus, which notched orders and options for 123 new planes on the show's first day. But Tuesday's Dreamliner orders broke the ice for the Chicago-based aerospace giant.
The Dreamliner has become the fastest-selling wide-body jet in history, with more than 1,400 sales since its introduction and a production backlog of more than 600 planes. Boeing builds the planes made of composite materials in North Charleston and at a second campus in Everett, Wash.
Boeing is one of the Charleston region's largest employers, with about 7,300 employees and contractors at the Dreamliner campus and other sites.