Boeing announces $101.5B in orders from Gulf

The Boeing Co. on Sunday launched the 777X program at the Dubai Airshow in the United Arab Emirates in spectacular fashion, monetarily speaking, with 225 announced firm orders and commitments for the new plane.

The company also announced commitments for 117 other aircraft, including 787s and 737s. In all, the day’s 342 announced firm orders and commitments represented $101.5 billion in sales at list prices, Boeing said. A firm order indicates a contractual obligation. A commitment is an expressed intent to buy. Airlines typically buy planes at a negotiated discount from list prices.

That large number of orders represents just four carriers in the tiny nations of Qatar and the UAE, which are in a race to create more jobs for their own citizens and diversify their oil-dependent economies. With that trend, the Dubai Airshow here has taken on growing importance.

“In recent years, much of the action in global aviation has shifted to the Middle East because countries like the U.A.E. and Qatar have tapped into our geographical advantage to build a new air transport connection for the world,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Airline and the smaller flydubai, told reporters.

Sunday’s announced Boeing orders:

• Etihad Airways will be the launch customer for the 777-8X. It has placed firm orders for eight 777-8Xs and 17 777-9Xs. Etihad also has placed a firm order for 30 787-10s, which puts the 787 order book at more than 1,000 jetliners. The carrier also has ordered a 777 freighter. In all, the airline’s orders announced Sunday are worth $18.2 billion at list prices.

• Emirates has committed to buy 115 777-9Xs and 35 777-8Xs worth $55.6 billion. It has options to buy 50 more.

• Emirates’ sibling low-cost carrier, flydubai, has committed to buy 75 737-Max airplanes and 11 737 NGs worth $8.8 billion.

• Qatar Airways has committed to buy 50 777-9Xs worth $18.9 billion.

In September, Lufthansa of Germany said it would buy 34 777-9X planes — before the program had even been launched. In all, Boeing said, there now are firm orders or commitments to buy 259 of the new planes by four carriers worth $95 billion at list prices. Boeing says that’s the largest product launch in jetliner history by dollar value.

Like present twin-engine, widebody 777 models built in Everett since 1994, the 777X will have an aluminum-alloy fuselage. Unlike today’s 777s, however, the wings will be of carbon-fiber-composite material, like those of the 787, and a greater wingspan. The wingtips will fold so the plane takes up less space at the gate.

With bigger engines by General Electric and other improvements, Boeing claims, the plane will be 12 percent more fuel-efficient than any competing model.

That competition primarily is the Airbus A350-1000, which is in flight test and is several years ahead of the 777X schedule.

Emirates also announced orders for 50 super-jumbo Airbus A380s worth $23 billion — a surprising boost for the Toulouse, France-based company’s struggling giant. Emirates now has total orders for 140 A380s.

And Etidah later unveiled an Airbus order valued at almost $27 billion that includes 50 A350s and 36 single-aisle A320s.

While Etihad was named the launch customer for the 777-8X, Boeing has not bestowed the honor on any of the carriers that have ordered or committed to the 777-9X. It’s possible that Emirates will get that distinction when its orders are firmed up.

Boeing says the 777X designation is not official. “Like the 787 Dreamliner which was launched as the 7E7, the 777X will be formally named at a later date,” the company said in a news release. “Design of the 777X is underway and suppliers will be named in the coming months. Production is set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2020.”

Unsaid is the fact no one yet knows where the 777X will be built. Chicago-based Boeing says all options are on the table after members of District 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) rejected a proposed contract extension that would have sited 777X final assembly and wing fabrication in Washington — in exchange for what union members called onerous changes to the agreement, which expires in 2016, a year before 777X production is to begin.

The Dubai Airshow continues through Thursday. The time difference is plus-12 hours, so activities there get underway in the late evening Everett time.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Chuck Taylor: 425-339-3429; ctaylor@heraldnet.com.

777X specs

All models:

• Wingspan of 223 feet, five inches — the greatest of any Boeing airplane. The wingtips will fold so the plane can park at existing airport gates.

• Larger windows, a wider cabin, new lighting, new architecture.

• GE9X engines built by General Electric — the biggest ever built for commercial airplanes.

777-9X: Up to 400 passengers and a range greater than 8,200 nautical miles. List price: $377.2 million.

777-8X: Up to 350 passengers and a range greater than 9,300 nautical miles. List price: $349.8 million.

Source: Boeing

Boeing’s big day

Firm orders and commitments announced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the Dubai Airshow on Sunday. Not included: options or purchase rights. Values are based on published list prices.

Airline Planes List price total Type of order
Etihad Airways 30 787-10 $18.2 billion Firm
17 777-9X
8 777-8X
1 777 Freighter
Emirates 115 777-9X $55.6 billion Commitment
35 777-8X
flydubai 75 737 Max $8.8 billion Commitment
11 737
Qatar Airways 50 777-9X $18.9 billion Commitment
Total 342 airplanes $101.5 billion
225 777X
75 737 MAX
30 787
11 737 NG
1 777 Freighter Source: Boeing

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