Boeing tops Airbus in air show haul for first time since 2012

US58bil haul: A Boeing 737 MAX 9 is moved on the tarmac prior to performing in a flying display at Le Bourget during the International Paris Air Show. Boeing won orders and expressions of interest for about 420 planes worth as much as US58bil through midday Wednesday. — AFP

PARIS: Boeing Co secured twice as much in order value at the Paris Air Show as rival Airbus SE, marking the US plane maker’s first victory in five years at the aviation industry’s annual showcase.

Boeing won orders and expressions of interest for about 420 planes worth as much as US$58bil based on a Bloomberg count through midday Wednesday, getting a boost from demand for the Max 10, the biggest version of its 737 workhorse.

Airbus, which posted a tally of 229 airliners valued at about US$25bil, dismissed the setback and said it was focusing on meeting delivery targets to make up for production snags rather than seeking new purchasers.

The haul of about US$83bil in deals easily surpassed the US$50bil signed at last year’s show in Farnborough, England, which was the lowest figure since 2010.

Asian lessors and airlines were particularly active as they girded for an accelerating travel boom. The order binge reflected customer support for a new Boeing 737 model, and quieted concerns that demand is fading for new jetliners.

“Maybe people came to the show with muted expectations, but the order activity is positive on the backdrop of relatively strong air-traffic growth,” said Kelly Ortberg, chief executive officer of aerospace supplier Rockwell Collins Inc.

“New narrow-body introductions are exciting. I think we’ll all leave going, ‘The show was a little better than expected.”’

The biggest buyer at the Paris expo was General Electric Co’s GE Capital Aviation Services, which ordered 100 Airbus planes valued at US$10.8bil and converted 20 Boeing production slots from earlier purchases to the planned 737 Max 10.

That model, rolled out to combat Airbus’s hot-selling A321neo, secured 336 commitments, including customers shifting to it from the 737’s other Max versions.

The boost from the Max 10 should help Boeing’s order flow come close to matching deliveries this year, Boeing chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg said.

The measure, known as book-to-bill, fell below one during 2015 and 2016 as sales slumped for the Chicago-based manufacturer amid falling oil prices.

Demand had jumped earlier in the decade as high fuel prices spurred airlines to stockpile orders of more efficient planes like Boeing’s upgraded 737 Max and Airbus’s A320neo.

That order flurry caused Airbus’s backlog to more than double, surpassing 6,700 airliners. — Bloomberg

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