Hot video doesn’t translate to big Dreamliner sales in Paris

Boeing Co. announced the sale of 36 Dreamliners during last week’s Paris Air Show.

The footage of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner making a dramatic near-vertical takeoff might have been the hit of last week’s Paris Air Show, but it didn’t translate into many sales of the long-range, wide-body jet that’s made in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

The video, which shows a 787-9 making acrobatic moves above Moses Lake in Washington state, has had more than 10 million views on Boeing’s YouTube channel. The Dreamliner itself made up just 36 of the 331 commercial plane orders and commitments Boeing announced during the air show.

Ethiopian Airlines announced its order for six 787-8 Dreamliners. The order had been placed earlier but was attributed to an unidentified customer on Boeing’s website prior to the air show. The order is worth $1.3 billion at list prices, but airlines typically negotiate better deals.

Boeing also announced a commitment by Garuda Indonesia to buy 30 787-9s worth $10.9 billion at list prices.

Dreamliner analysts don’t appear too concerned about the slow sales in Paris.

“I think it’s unfair to say that the 787 had a bad or a slow showing at Paris — there’s still some 800-plus in the backlog that is yet to be delivered,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for StrategicAero Research. “On that basis alone, the 787 is doing just fine, especially as Boeing is on track to break even on unit costs on the airplane this year.”

Ahmad said it also is unrealistic to expect big orders at every air show, especially with a calendar full of big events.

“The 787’s sales success speaks for itself and the backlog shows it,” Ahmad said. “With so many airlines already 787 customers, you can’t expect every air show to churn out yet more orders while the backlog is still so big.”

Uresh Sheth, a New York investment banker and Dreamliner enthusiast, also said time is on Boeing’s side.

“This is just four days out of 365 and we have a whole other six months-plus coming that would see some major fleet contests being decided,” Sheth said on his “All Things 787” website. Sheth said possible sales include up to 100 Dreamliners to Emirates Airline later this year.

Emirates has been playing Boeing and France-based Airbus against each other for the order, trying to negotiate a lower price. Ahmad said Boeing is the front-runner for the Emirates order, especially since the airline nixed an earlier order for Airbus’ A350 wide-body.

“Emirates has never re-ordered a plane it ditched, and with no A350 (delivery) slots available ahead of the 787-10, Boeing is in prime position to land this deal,” he said.

Along with the orders, Russian carrier Aeroflot announced its cancellation of 22 787s.

Ray Conner, head of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, told Bloomberg News that he isn’t concerned about the cancellation because the Dreamliner production backlog stretches past 2020 and another airline likely will pick up the slots.

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