Dubai Airshow: Boeing wins first orders for 737s

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2009 6:40 AM

Boeing scored its first aircraft orders at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday, getting requests for a total of 11 737-800 jetliners from two Algerian airlines.

The Chicago-based plane maker had lagged behind European rival Airbus, which has announced deals every day since the show began Sunday. Airbus picked up a handful of additional orders of its own Tuesday, including one for two planes that will break the record for packing passengers in.

Both of Boeing's orders came from airlines backed by the Algerian government.

Seven of the planes will be used by the North African country's national flag carrier Air Algerie, eventually bringing the airline's 737 fleet to 22 planes.

Air Algerie Chief Executive Abdelwahid Bouabdallah called the order "a natural progression" for the airline, because its crew is already familiar with the aircraft.

Tassili Airlines ordered the other four 737s. That carrier is fully owned by Algeria's state-owned oil company Sonatrach, which plans to use the planes to transport employees and cargo to work sites.

Boeing did not provide a value for the deal. The planes sell for between $72.5 million and $81 million at list prices, but buyers typically negotiate discounts, particularly in tough financial times.

Boeing's main competitor Airbus also added to its order tally at the show with a pair of relatively small deals.

This week's order book for the weeklong aviation fair, the Middle East's biggest, looks likely to be only a fraction of the previous show's $155 billion total.

The last show in 2007 saw massive orders for both Boeing and Airbus from fast-growing Gulf carriers such as Dubai's Emirates airline and Qatar Airways who have been largely quiet this time around.

Airbus said it got orders from Air Austral for two "high density" Airbus A380s that each will be packed by about 840 seats _ easily the most passengers ever to fly in a single airplane.

The airline, based on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, plans to offer only economy class in the two planes on flights between the territory and Paris.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy valued each plane at $330 million to $335 million at list prices.

Airbus also signed orders with Nepal Airlines for an A320 and an A330 plane. The airline said it has options for six additional aircraft.

The Nepal Airlines deal, valued at $250 million, is Airbus' fourth order at the show.

Also Tuesday, Embraer said it sold five 175 regional jets to Oman Air in the Brazilian plane maker's only deal of the show. Embraer valued the deal at $177.5 million.