Big day for Boeing, Airbus

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Aircraft leasing companies led the way as the Boeing Co. and Airbus announced orders for nearly 200 new aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show in Hampshire, England, on Monday.

The flood of new orders bolsters belief that the airline industry is back on track after two years of sagging passenger demand, which led airlines to cancel jet orders and delay aircraft deliveries.

“We are going to have a significant amount of orders over the next few days,” said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This is going to be a good air show for us, and I think it’s going to be a good air show for Airbus as well.”

Airbus officials shared Boeing’s upbeat outlook. Airbus chief salesman John Leahy said on Saturday that he had bet EADS’ head Louis Gallois “that we’ll more than double” the 131 gross orders that Airbus has made to the end of June. EADS is the parent company of Airbus. The air show, which is held near London, runs through Sunday.

Together, Boeing and Airbus landed orders valued roughly $13 billion at list prices, though airlines and leasing companies rarely pay full price. Boeing received orders for 55 of its single-aisle 737 aircraft and 30 Everett-built 777s, though 18 777 orders were already on Boeing’s books. Airbus won orders for 111 A320s and 11 A330 jets.

Leasing companies placed the bulk of the aircraft orders Monday. GE Capital Aviation Services ordered 40 Boeing 737s and 60 Airbus A320 family aircraft.

New leasing company, Air Lease Corp., placed an order for 51 Airbus A320s. Air Lease Corp. was started by Steven Udvar-Hazy, who retired earlier this year from aircraft leasing giant, International Lease Finance Corp., which he founded. Udvar-Hazy plans to have 100 aircraft at his new company by next year.

“With a wide airline customer base and the continued global demand for replacement and growth, the A320 and the A321 are an integral part of our fleet portfolio strategy,” Udvar-Hazy said. “In today’s airline world, low operating costs, fuel efficiency, environmental friendliness and maximum operating flexibility are important ingredients,”

Boeing also announced an order from Dubai-based Emirates for 30 777-300ER jetliners, valued at $9.1 billion at list prices. But it revealed that 18 of these were previously attributed to an unidentified customer on its order book, taking the value of the new deal down to $3.6 billion.

The Chicago-based Boeing also said that Norwegian Air Shuttle firmed up an order for 15 737s. The carrier was exercising an option from a 2007 jet order. Russian carrier Aeroflot finalized an order for 11 A330 jets. It’s the first direct order for A330s that Aeroflot has placed.

Analysts, who are looking to the Farnborough show to take the pulse of the industry’s health, expect the event to be more upbeat than last year’s sister show near Paris. But they aren’t looking for commercial plane orders anywhere near the record-breaking $88.7 billion worth announced in Farnborough in 2008 before the global credit squeeze took hold of the industry.

Boeing flew its new 787 Dreamliner to the international air show on Sunday in hopes of drawing attention to its fuel-efficient jet, which is more than two years behind schedule. The company announced last week that the first delivery of the 787 could slip into 2011 thought Boeing hopes to deliver the 787 by year’s end. On Monday, Boeing’s Albaugh told Bloomberg News that first delivery of the company’s 747-8 Freighter also could slide from late 2010 to early 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Boeing Co.

15 737s from Norwegian Air Shuttle

40 737s from GE Capital Aviation Services

30 777s from Emirates Airlines (order for 18 of those already on the books)


51 A320s from Air Lease Corp.

60 A320s from GE Capital Aviation Services

11 A330s from Aeroflot