By BRYAN CORLISS
In the market for a good, clean, used Airbus jet? Then you might want to give the Boeing Co. a call.
The Seattle-based company is acquiring at least 10 used Airbus A340-300 jets from Singapore Airlines — taken as trade-ins, if you will, during the 1996 sale of 10 Everett-built 777s to the Asian air carrier.
It’s not the first time Boeing has taken used Airbus planes in trade, said Dinseh Keskar, president of Boeing Aircraft Trading, its used airplane division. But "because those were onesies and twosies, they didn’t get the attention these A340s get," he said.
It’s a little weird to think about, he acknowledged. "I’m a 20-year Boeing man here."
Trade-ins are becoming more common in the jetliner business, Keskar said.
It used to be that all used jets were "FSBO" — for sale by owner, he said. But just as many people have found it’s too much hassle to sell their own old cars, an increasing number of airlines have taken to trading in their used planes when they buy new ones.
Hiring someone else to sell your used planes for you allows the airlines to focus more on their core business — hauling passengers and cargo, Keskar said.
So now both Boeing and Airbus now take trade-ins, leaving them with an inventory of used planes to sell.
Neither airplane maker has a huge load of used planes. Airbus on Wednesday listed eight used jets for sale, all A300s and A310s.
Boeing had 29 jets listed on its for-sale Web site, some of them lease returns that were used by airlines but still are owned by Boeing Capital Corp. The list included the first five from the Singapore Airlines deal that it will receive, and one Airbus A310 acquired in a unrelated deal.
The rest were planes built by Boeing or McDonnell Douglas.
Boeing won’t actually take possession of the A340s until next year. Under the terms of the deal with Singapore, it could end up taking another seven of the planes in the next few years, including two that would be brand new, straight from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France.
The planes likely won’t ever come to the Northwest, Keskar said, since they haven’t been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in the United States. Instead, it’s more likely they will be sold and remodeled to meet buyer needs at the facility of a Boeing partner somewhere in Asia.
Boeing isn’t going to try to upset too many apple carts by selling the used Airbus planes, Keskar said. A number of Boeing customers use A340s on some routes, and he is marketing the planes to them. The list includes Air France, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Air Canada.
"We’re hoping we’ll be able to get them out fairly quickly," Keskar said.
The advantage to airlines of buying used planes is twofold. For starters, they’re available right away. Ordering a new plane means waiting about two years while it’s built, Keskar said. And, of course, it’s cheaper. Keskar wouldn’t disclose asking prices, but said it would be significantly less than the sticker price for a new jet.
"It’s like buying a 5-year-old BMW as opposed to a brand new BMW," Keskar said.
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