Major Boeing order to bring airshow to a close

Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:50am EDT
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By Victoria Bryan and Rhys Jones

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - Boeing Co will cap off a subdued Farnborough Airshow with a $9 billion order from United Airlines for 100 aircraft, as strong demand for its revamped 737 Max helped the U.S. planemaker claw back market share from its European rival Airbus.

The aerospace industry's biggest event was a chance for Boeing to rack up some orders for its fuel-efficient 737 Max narrowbody, its answer to Airbus's short-haul offering, the A320neo, which stole the show in terms of orders in 2011.

Yet with order books already full and economies stuttering across the globe, the focus this year has been on how to deliver the backlog of planes.

Including the United Airlines deal, Boeing racked up around $30 billion of firm orders and commitments at the show, with Airbus securing deals worth around $17 billion.

Boeing's announcement with United Airlines, expected to be for 100 737 Max aircraft and first reported by Reuters in May, is due later this afternoon.

Boeing on Wednesday announced an order with Avolon, bringing to almost 200 the number of 737 Max aircraft sold in firm or provisional deals to leasing companies at the show.

The airshow has been relatively subdued, marked by a lack of firm orders, with the majority of those placed being commitments to buy planes at a later date. Orders from airlines have been slow, with leasing companies, such as CIT and Air Leasing Corp, signing some of the biggest deals.

"It is the end of the beginning," said aerospace analyst Nick Cunningham of UK-based Agency Partners, adding that the focus for investors and aerospace investors was firmly on keeping production running smoothly to deliver the planes that have been sold in an order boom in recent years driven by emerging markets.   Continued...

A worker prepares the Boeing chalet ahead of the Farnborough Airshow 2012 in southern England July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor