FARNBOROUGH, England — Boeing Co. and archrival Airbus were caught in a fierce dogfight for orders at the Farnborough Airshow Tuesday, with both aircraft manufacturers unveiling multi-billion-dollar deals, crucial at a time of global economic unease.
Boeing was a big winner for the second day as it touted a further two big orders worth a little more than $11 billion for its remodeled short-haul 737 aircraft, but the deals are not yet firm and could theoretically unravel.
Meanwhile, European manufacturer Airbus unveiled its first firm multibillion dollar order at this year’s airshow.
Boeing said GE Capital Aviation Services, the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of General Electric, has committed to purchasing 75 of the 737 MAX 8s and 25 Next-Generation 737-800s.
The deal is valued at around $9.2 billion at list prices, but customers rarely pay the full amount when ordering big. Further discussions are needed and hurdles must be cleared before the deal is finalized.
“This commitment confirms the value of the 737 MAX in today’s competitive marketplace,” said Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive.
Boeing also said Kuwait’s ALAFCO, a company that buys planes, then leases them onto airlines, has committed to buy 20 of the 737 MAX 8s. The deal, if concluded, is valued at $1.9 billion at current list prices. On Monday, Boeing also struck big with a $7.2 billion deal with Air Lease Corp.
“This is the first commitment for the 737 MAX from the Middle East, which is one of the aviation industry’s highest growth regions,” Conner said.
The deals, if closed out as most commitments do, will help Boeing claw back ground lost to Airbus in the short-haul market. At last year’s Farnborough show, Airbus stole the thunder from Boeing with its remodeled airplane, the A320neo.
In the run-up to this year’s Farnborough, expectations were high that Boeing would clinch a raft of short-haul deals as it tries to catch up with Airbus in orders for single-aisle aircraft.
It is pushing the MAX model heavily in response. The MAX incorporates new technologies designed to make the aircraft more efficient, reliable and comfortable. So far Boeing has secured orders and commitments for more than 1,000 of the aircraft. Further orders are expected in the coming days, including from United Airlines.
“With rising fuel costs, the 737 MAX will provide operational cost savings to airlines in addition to being more environmentally friendly due to its latest quiet engine technology,” said Ahmad Alzabin, ALAFCO’s chairman and chief executive.
Airbus also announced its first big deal of the airshow Tuesday. It said Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has put in a firm order valued at $4.2 billion for Airbus’ long-haul A350-1000.