Boeing 777 order tally sets record

  • BRYAN CORLISS / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, November 30, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

By BRYAN CORLISS

Herald Writer

On the rebound after the breakup of a longtime exclusive relationship with Qantas, Boeing Thursday announced a $5.6 billion deal with another favorite partner.

The company announced the sale of 40 new jetliners — including 33 Everett-built 777s — to International Lease Finance Corp. on Thursday.

That deal, plus another deal for three 777s to an unidentified buyer, brought total 777 orders for the year to 115, a record.

The International Lease Finance order was expected, and had been announced initially during the Farnborough Air Show this summer. Boeing had not, however, included the 777s in its order totals.

The seven other planes in the deal, all Next Generation 737s, were listed on the order sheet before Thursday, but the buyer had not been identified.

International Lease Finance, which leases its planes to airlines worldwide, is Boeing’s largest customer. The company has ordered 644 Boeing planes, including 211 737s and 67 777s.

The new deal includes eight of Boeing’s new Longer-Range 777 models, along with 25 777-200ERs.

"We’re very excited about the new Longer-Range 777 airplanes," said Steven Udvar-Hazy, International Lease Finance’s president and chief executive officer. "Boeing 777 and Next-Generation 737 airplanes are in high demand, and our order therefore responds to these demands."

The Longer-Range 777 will be the longest-range airplane in the world, able to fly 301 passengers more than 10,000 miles.

Analysts widely viewed Qantas’ decision on Wednesday to order 25 new Airbus jets as a defeat for Boeing. Qantas has had an all-Boeing fleet for almost 40 years.

But the decision wasn’t a crushing blow, said analyst Robert Toomey of Dean Rauscher Wessels in Seattle. "Boeing certainly has been winning its traditional two-thirds market share this year," he said.

Sales of 777s have been "nothing short of excellent this year," Boeing spokesman Bob Saling said. "That really supports our feeling on the way we see the market evolving," he added — toward longer-range, midsized jets that bypass big hubs.

Airbus got a lot of attention this week because of the Qantas deal, which included 12 A3XX superjumbos, the new plane that has caught everyone’s eye, Saling said

But from Boeing’s perspective the A3XX is "designed to fit the needs of a handful of airlines," Saling said. "The Triple-Seven is a really great airplane, and it fits the needs of a lot more airlines than the A3XX."

This week alone, Boeing has announced sales of about $8.8 billion worth of commercial jets, compared with Airbus’ $3.4 billion Qantas deal.

Along with the 40-plane International Lease Finance order, Boeing sold eight 777s and three 767s to Japan Airlines, and two 747-400F freighters to Korean Air.

Reuters reported that Singapore Air also has ordered three more 777s over the past two weeks. Boeing has added the planes to its order list, but hasn’t publicly identified the ordering company.

Also, Air France this week signaled it will add four more 747-400F freighters to its cargo fleet, The Associated Press reported Thursday. However, the airline didn’t say when it would do that, whether it would be new or used planes, or whether they’d be ordered from Boeing or leased elsewhere.

"We’ll be interested to see how they follow through," Saling said.

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