FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom: Boeing Co. escaped Airbus Group NV’s shadow on the third day of the Farnborough Airshow as an agreement to sell new 777X jets to Qatar Airways Ltd. drove a $46 billion haul of orders and options.
After dominating Boeing on the first two days of the event, Airbus reported one deal Wednesday valued at $1.2 billion at list prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. Boeing’s accord with Qatar Airways, which isn’t a completed order, is for 50 of the -9X version along with 50 options.
The agreement nudged Boeing ahead of Airbus in announced sales at the biggest aviation expo, with about $63 billion to the European planemaker’s $61 billion, the Bloomberg Industries tally showed. Even as the industry events at the show wind down Thursday, the manufacturers will be working to ensure that the pledges to buy planes eventually are booked as firm orders.
“This is potentially useful as a guide, but with backlogs the size of the ones at both Boeing and Airbus, it has little near-term impact,” George Hamlin, a former Airbus executive who now runs Hamlin Transportation Consulting, said this week in an interview about the day-by-day sales jockeying.
Qatar Airways doubled its planned purchases of the upgraded 777 in Wednesday’s transaction, after firming up a deal for the same number announced at the Dubai Airshow in November.
The latest agreement has a list value of $37.7 billion, Chicago-based Boeing said. That would make it the biggest deal yet at this year’s show. Boeing’s backlog was 5,197 planes through June, compared with 5,546 for Toulouse, France-based Airbus, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.
Airbus took an early advantage this week after introducing an updated version of its A330 wide-body with more fuel-efficient engines. Lessors have dominated the deals, with Qatar Airways and AirAsia Group Bhd among the few airline customers.
“The preponderance of lessor orders at the show is largely a function of timing, we believe,” Gary Liebowitz, a New York-based analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, said in a note to clients this week. Lessors over time will command about quarter of the planemakers’ backlogs and own 45 percent to 50 percent of the global aircraft fleet.
Boeing also pulled in an order from China’s Hainan Airlines Co. for 50 737MAX-8 single-aisle airliners valued at $5.1 billion at list prices, as well as two current-version 737-700s from Air Algerie SpA. MG Aviation, a leasing company, agreed to buy two 787-9, the mid-sized version of the Dreamliner model.
The 777X will be introduced by the end of the decade to follow the current 777, a long-range wide-body jet that boasts the world’s largest commercial engine. Only one buyer formally expressed interest in Airbus’ competing A350 this week: Air Mauritius Ltd. took options on four planes.