Boeing's new 777X steals the thunder at air show
THREE Middle Eastern airlines signed up on Sunday to buy 225 of Boeing's new 777X jets, helping to bring the initial batch of orders for the plane to US$95 billion (S$118 billion), a strong start for sales of the commercial jet.
That total, based on list prices, includes 34 jets that Lufthansa had previously said it would order. The latest deals came on the first day of the Dubai Airshow, as airlines from the Persian Gulf region announced more than US$150 billion in orders for a variety of planes.
The flood of orders highlighted how the big money in aviation is shifting to the Middle East and Asia; orders from the region also provided a boost to Airbus' beleaguered A380 jumbo jet, the world's largest passenger plane.
The airline Emirates, which ordered 150 of the 777Xs, said it would also buy 50 more A380s, which have had disappointing sales overall. The A380 deal would be worth US$23 billion at list prices, though Boeing and Airbus offer undisclosed discounts on nearly all their sales.
Airbus is under pressure to revive interest in the A380. The plane has had no buyers so far this year, and Airbus has said that the lack of demand could result in a cut in production.
Still, the biggest news from the air show was the formal introduction of the twin-engine 777X, which will provide a more fuel-efficient replacement for Boeing's popular 777 jets by about 2020.
Boeing executives reiterated on Saturday that they would consider several sites to build the plane after union machinists in Washington state resoundingly rejected a proposed contract extension last week.
The updated 777 will have new engines and lighter carbon-composite wings and will save 12 per cent on fuel costs, compared with rival planes, Boeing said.
It will come in two versions: a 777-9X, which will be able to carry more than 400 passengers as far as 15,200km, and a 777-8X, which will seat 350 passengers but fly more than 17,200km.
Boeing said the planes, which are still being designed, would be formally named later. Production is scheduled to begin in 2017.